Here’s a recipe that will give your knife skills a work out! No pressure but the thinner and neater you cut the vegetables, the prettier this will look. Deliciously fresh and spicy, this meat-free salad could well be the ultimate vegetarian summer dish - and it’s flexi. You can vary the vegetables according to what is in season. For example you could use yam bean (jicama), radish or daikon instead of the kohlrabi.
- 320 g soba noodles
- 2 Lebanese cucumbers
- 250 g red cabbage, very finely shredded
- 2 carrots, cut into fine matchsticks
- 12 sesame leaves (see Note), stems removed and shredded
- 300 g kohlrabi (about ½ a kohlrabi), peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
- 4 hard boiled eggs, cut into quarters
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 350 g peeled, cored and chopped Nashi pears (about 1 large or 2 small)
- 75 g (½ cup) gochujang (see Note)
- 1 tbsp Korean chilli powder, or to taste (see Note)
- 2 ½ tbsp caster sugar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 ½ tbsp sesame oil
- 1 ½ tbsp mirin
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the dressing, place the Nashi in a food processor then process until a smooth puree forms. Add all the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper then transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Fill a large bowl with cold water and a medium bowl with iced water and set aside. Bring a large saucepan of unsalted water to the boil then add the soba noodles, stirring to keep them separate. Once the water starts to come back to the boil reduce the heat so the noodles just simmer. Cook for about 3 minutes or according to the manufacturer's instructions, or until tender.
Drain the noodles well then transfer them to the bowl of cold water. Using your hands, rub the noodles for 1 minute to wash off any excess starch then drain them well.
Using a potato peeler, shave the cucumbers lengthways into fine ribbons. Place the noodles in the middle of a large platter. Arrange the vegetables and eggs in piles around the noodles, then scatter over the sesame seeds. Serve with the dressing to the side - diners help themselves to noodles, vegetables, egg and dressing.
• Sesame leaves are look similar to perilla leaves (they are related) although they taste stronger and quite different. You can often find them in Korean food stores in the fridge section. If you can’t find them, just leave them out.
• Gochujang is a dark red and thick fermented Korean condiment made from sticky rice, chilli, soybeans and salt. Find it at Korean, or general Asian, food stores.
• Korean chilli powder, called gochugaru, is a bit different to regular chilli powder. It tastes a bit smoky, is a touch sweet and is very hot. Again, you’ll find it in good Asian grocers or specialist Korean stores.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Tiffany Page.