Buckwheat is a funny old thing. It is a strange-looking triangular grain with an earth flavour and a strange yet compelling gritty texture. I like to toast them and add them to salads, but only a few. They are “interesting”, but I don’t put in great big handfuls as I would with pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. I have tried making Dutch poffertjes, and the buckwheat flour was a great addition to the flavour, a real success. But I have also tried making buckwheat flour bread. Those in the know will already be sniggering, because while it turned a glorious golden colour, it didn’t rise and it had the look and texture of setting concrete. Well, at least I learned something from that…
Then I went to the Japan Centre supermarket on Piccadilly, and there I saw packets and packets of soba noodles, 100% buckwheat. Why not? I bought them, and when I was home, I started to look for things to make with them. I stumbled on a simple sesame and soba noodle salad with spring onions, and it was fantastic. That was about four months ago, and I have been making it every two weeks since. This is my “quick fake Japanese noodles”, based on a recipe from Nigella Lawson but adapted for my own lazy habits in the kitchen.
The soba noodles have a lovely earthy quality to them, and a slightly gritty texture as you eat them, which I actually white like. Not just a pile of mush, but noodles with a bit of punch to them. The sesame serves to add crunch and pops in the mouth, while the spring onions keep things sharp and fresh, and add little flashes of emerald green and pearly white to the dish. This is all topped off with a simple dressing of rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey and sesame oil. All very simple and easy, healthy and absolutely delicious. Buckwheat, you make this dish a real winner in my eyes.
To make sesame soba noodle salad (serves 2, adapted from Nigella Lawson):
• 50g sesame seeds
• 200g soba noodles
• 5 spring onions
• 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
• 2 teaspoons runny honey (I used orange blossom)
• 5 teaspoons soy sauce
• 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
Put the sesame seeds in a saucepan, and cook on a medium heat until they are toasted. You will need to stir all the time to prevent burning and get an even colour. Put into a mixing bowl to cool.
Cook the noodles in boiling water according the instructions on the packet. When done, drain and cover in cold water. Drain and cover again with cold water. Leave to sit for 1 minute, then drain. Add to the sesame seeds.
Cut the spring onions diagonally into very thin slices. Add to the noodles.
In a jam jar, combine the sesame oil, honey, soy sauce and rice vinegar. Shake the jar well, and once combined, pour the sauce over the noodles. Toss well until well mixed, and serve.
Worth making? Easy, quick and utterly delicious. When you fancy something a little exotic but don’t want to spend long in the kitchen, this is a fabulous recipe.