Monday, June 2, 2008

Soba Salad with Gochujang Vinaigrette

Hubby and I recently had an interesting conversation about food, things like what we're eating and spending on food. I think I'm fairly good at maximizing the food while minimizing the money, but we could definitely do more. For one thing, we can bring lunch and snacks to work. I usually already do this because my campus doesn't have any food options besides vending machines. Hubby works right next to a food court and a block of restaurants, so he's in the habit of going to lunch. I've always been willing to pack his lunch, but I think there was a lot of peer pressure from his coworkers to go out to eat. But now he wants to bring his lunch, and I couldn't be happier. I'm planning on getting some bento boxes and making it fun and interesting. Doesn't it sound like I'll be packing lunch for a kid? Who knows, maybe he can convince some of his coworkers that the cool kids bring their lunch to work?? How about you? Do you bring your lunch to work?

Since we've had access to so much lettuce lately, it's only natural we'll be bringing salad for lunch. One of the salads I threw together was a soba salad. I know that sounds a little strange, but I’ll tell you why it worked. The baby lettuce I've been getting at the farmers' market actually has flavor! Some taste like mustard greens, others taste subtly sweet, and some have a more familiar lettuce taste. They remind me more of herbs than lettuce. Tossed with the soba and a tasty dressing, it just worked. If you don’t have delicious baby lettuce available, try tossing the noodles with cabbage chiffonade, shredded carrot and finely sliced green onions. Another option is fresh asparagus thinly sliced on the diagonal or fresh sugar snap peas. I left ours "vegetarian" but you could throw in some meat or seafood. Whatever tickles your fancy.

The dressing I threw together is just a variation of my peanut vinaigrette. Yes, I know it’s cheating, but I’m lazy like that. I substituted the peanut butter with Korean hot pepper paste, and nixed the curry powder. Doing so little completely changed the flavor. The result is a little sweet, a little spicy (but not too much for Sonny to eat), a little salty and a little nutty from the sesame oil. If you like Korean flavors, I think you’ll enjoy this.

Gochu jang (Korean hot pepper paste) Vinaigrette
makes about 1/2 to 1 cup
  • 1 to 2 tbs Korean hot pepper paste
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 3 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs tamari
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup peanut (or a neutral oil)
  • soba noodles, cooked according to package directions
  • baby lettuce or other vegetables for the salad
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish
  • cilantro for garnish
To make the dressing, combine everything in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Taste the mixture and adjust according to your preference (more tamari, honey, etc). If you're happy, start adding the peanut oil slowly all the while whisking to incorporate it. You may not need to add all of it.

To serve, toss the noodles in some dressing and set them atop your lettuce/vegetables. Top with your garnishes and drizzle more dressing on top, if desired.

I’m going to submit this to Weekend Herb Blogging , which was created by Kayln's Kitchen and is currently being hosted by maninas:food matters. It’s a weekly event, so there’s always a chance to participate! Click here to see who's hosting in the coming weeks.


Manggy said...

Another great pic Darlene!! You really took advantage of that short photo course! :) Ah, I just opened my gochujang for a dish... you will see in the near future :) Nice salad! It looks so satisfying and herby!

Dee said...

Thanks manggy! That course was very helpful. The best advice I got from the instructor was that I should read the manual. And guess what? He was right! There's still some luck involved, but it's been fun learning how to use the manual functions.

I can not wait to see your dish. I love love love the flavor of gochujang!

Just Cook It said...

What a great idea. And you are so right about lettuce. I had a whole bunch of people over at the weekend for a barbecue and we had some of our homegrown lettuce on the table. A friend said 'Woah, before now I have never been able to understand why people bothered to eat lettuce. This actually tastes of something.' But soba takes it to a whole new level...

Anonymous said...

Hi Darlene, we take lunch each day to work which are normally our left overs. It's so much cheaper and usually much more delicious than buying stuff. Great looking salad! I noodle salads - just the kind of thing that's great the next day.

Dee said...

Syrie, you're right. I figure we could save like $40 a week if hubby takes lunch and snacks from home. Take-out coffee alone costs like $10 to $15 bucks a week and it tastes so much better from home.

tigerfish said...

Well, that could be my 10th or 11th way in soba when I try your recipe. I fell for soba just 2 yrs back. It was late but better than never, as well said. :D

Anonymous said...

My beloved hubbie works across a city block from a superbly well-stocked Asian foods market. I'll be sending him for some gochujang tomorrow.

I think that with some fermented bean paste with my next pork shreds stir fry should be just grand!

Thanks for the heads-up on a wonderful south-east Asian cuisine ingredient!

Anonymous said...

One other funny item. A co-worker threatened (half jokingly) to turn my husband in to the HR department for harassment after he opened a jar of really potent Kim Chi in the company break room. It was the full-monty Kim Chi with the fermented shrimp, scallops, anchovies and whatnot.

Powerful stuff!

Dee said...

Rebecca, that's funny about the kimchi! I make my own and I like it pretty fermented. My coworkers have also jokingly complained to me about the stink :-)

Kalyn Denny said...

Sounds delicious. Your dressing sounds like something I'd like.

Anonymous said...

I'm really loving this vinaigrette recipe! I'm definitely gonna try it soon. I think it'll be a hit at our next party!
I absolutely love your garden pictures too! Your cilantro rice is brilliant!

Dee said...

WORC, thank you! I hope you'll try the dressing and tell me how you like it. As for the garden, I've harvested a bowlful of sugar snap peas with the intention of using them in a stir-fry, but they were so good, we've been eating them raw as snacks :-).