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
For the quick chile oil:
red pepper flakes
whole dried chile such as chile de arbol or Calabrian, lightly crushed
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.