When spring rolls around the weather is heats up in San Francisco after chilly winters. When I was growing up, warmer months meant chilled dishes like hiyashi chuka, Hawaii-style somen salad, Japanese-style somen (served on a glass plate and over ice to cool you down) and of course, soba salad. Soba salad also makes an easy, make-ahead lunch! Here’s my California take on a classic soba salad. —Kristin Eriko Posner
1 hour 15 minutes
toasted black sesame seeds
toasted sesame oil
grated/finely chopped ginger
carrots, cut into matchsticks
Watercress or other leafy green
Spring vegetables of your choice, cooked (asparagus, snap peas, and fiddleheads are all great additions)
Shimeji mushrooms, lightly cooked in boiling water
lightly pickled red onions
servings of fresh soba noodles (look in the refrigerator or freezer section of your local Japanese grocery store)
First, toast your sesame seeds on a pan over the stove for a few minutes, until fragrant. I re-toast them even if the package says they are toasted because I think it helps coax out the flavor. Remove from the heat and cool for five minutes.
Toss the toasted sesame seeds into a blender and blend until it starts to stick together and becomes paste-like.
Add the remaining sauce ingredients and blend again until well combined.
Reheat soba noodles according to package instructions. I prefer to use refrigerated or frozen soba noodles because the springy texture is far superior to dried soba noodles. If you don’t have access to a Japanese grocery store, dried soba works fine in this recipe, too.
Toss soba noodles with dressing. Arrange remaining ingredients artfully on top of each bowl. Sprinkle with sansho powder and serve!