Make Ahead

Dawn Perry's Soba Salad with Cucumbers, Soft Tofu & Quick Chile Oil

July 24, 2017
4 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This recipe comes from Dawn Perry's new Short Stack, Cucumbers.

It comes with a simple chile oil you can turn to again and again—whether you're looking to spice up ricotta cheese or a margarita pizza or, yes, a bowl of noodles—and a smart trick for accentuating the flavor of your cukes: By salting the sliced cucumbers, you'll draw out the excess liquid, ensuring their crunchiness. But Dawn doesn't throw the cucumber liquid down the drain: instead, she uses it to bolster the dressing with more cucumber flavor. As Dawn puts it, you'll get "big, fresh flavor against the cold, buttery tofu." —Sarah Jampel

What You'll Need
  • For the quick chile oil:
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 whole dried chile such as chile de arbol or Calabrian, lightly crushed
  • 1 medium seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • One 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or grated
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 9 ounces soba noodles
  • 14 ounces silken tofu
  • Quick chile oil (from above)
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • Large handful torn fresh basil leaves
  1. For the quick chile oil:
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the oil, red pepper flakes, and dried chile. Cook, swirling occasionally, until fragrant and sizzling about 4 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the oil to a bowl or glass jar; let cool (no need to strain the chile). The oil will keep, tightly sealed in the refrigerator, for a very long time.
  1. Place the cucumbers in a large bowl and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Set aside, tossing occasionally, until the cucumbers have release some of their liquid, about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain off any accumulated juices into a separate medium bowl, and whisk in the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, and oil. Pour over the cucumbers and toss to combine.
  3. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the soba noodles and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, then drain once more.
  4. Add the drained soba noodles to the cucumber mixture and toss to combine. Divide the noodles and cucumbers among 4 bowls and top each with a spoonful of tofu. Drizzle each bowl with some of the Quick Chile Oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds and basil, and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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5 Reviews

Bart O. April 24, 2022
I feel this recipe needs some mirin or any other source of sweetness. Also I don't understand the incorporation of the cucumber juices. Is the intention to have a soup-like element in this dish?
ariel A. July 21, 2021
This salad is delightful! Came together very quickly, too. If I was in a huge rush and wanted to make it even faster, I would skip salting the cucumbers, but it was a nice touch.
Maureen August 12, 2018
A bizarre question...I have an aversion to tofu (too many years as a vegetarian?) so what can I substitute? I have the crazy idea of fresh mozz, maybe even burrata. Is that horrible?
weshook October 3, 2019
Answering more than a year later, but how about shelled examine or some neutral white beans?
Bobby L. August 9, 2017
i've had this chile-oil recipe in my head forever, just never had the right proportions...thank you! now i'm gonna make those yummy cuke noodles!