Apr 5, 2010

Sesame soba noodles with asparagus

I’ve been craving sesame noodles but most versions are very gloppy, overly sweet and often made with large amounts of peanut butter. Don’t get me wrong, I love peanut butter, but I wanted a pure sesame taste without the heaviness. So today I opted for two different types of sesame oil and a bit of tahini. The addition of lots of green stuff – cucumber, scallions asparagus and cilantro – made me feel like I was eating something “light”, even if it wasn’t quite true.

You can make this with Chinese egg noodles or spaghetti, but soba noodles contain whole grains in the form of buckwheat, so they’re a better choice all around.

4 T. rice vinegar
3 T. low sodium tamari or soy sauce
2 T. mirin (sweet japanese cooking wine – available in most supermarkets)
1 T. sugar
1/4 t. cayenne pepper, or more to taste
4 t. minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. sesame oil
2 T. toasted sesame oil
2 T. tahini

10 oz. soba noodles

1/2 lb. thin asparagus, cut into 1/2″ pieces (snap off and discard tough ends)
1 cucumber, seeded and sliced into thin 1″ strips
4 scallions, sliced
1/3 c. chopped cilantro

Blanch the asparagus pieces in boiling water for 1 1/2 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the sauce ingredients. Cook the noodles according to package directions, rinsing with cold water several times after draining. Combine with the sauce, then mix in the asparagus, cucumber, scallions and cilantro. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 6 as a side dish.

See more recipes: Pasta, Side dishes, Vegan


  • Instead of cilantro, consider shiso, the Japanese leaf sometimes called Japanese basil, though its taste is unique. Shiso is a natural complement to soba.

  • Beth

    This looks yummy. I’ve also given up on sesame noodles, for the same reasons, but I do occasionally think of them and sigh. So thanks.

  • Louise

    Made this the other day. It was delicious. I prefer this more savory recipe to the traditional one made with peanut butter. I made one substitution. Instead of regular sesame oil, I used black sesame oil. I would like to experiment with shiso, since I expect many plants will sprout up again in my garden. They’re like tasty weeds.

  • Ann

    I made this recipe tonight and everyone loved it. I used hot sesame oil as well and it added some kick to the noodles. I would definitely make this again and will try Shiso next time.

  • Ann, you’re my biggest fan – I love it! So glad you’re cooking so many of my recipes.

  • […] lately thanks to my homage-to-Japan mood, plus I’m sure I’ll love buckwheat pasta. The Sesame Soba Noodles with Asparagus at the What Would Cathy Eat blog will give me the excuse to indulge that […]

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