Dinner Rush! Cold Ginger Soba Noodles

There’s a hole in my heart left behind by the recent closure of my favorite local Chinese restaurant. The Mill House Panda was a Poughkeepsie, NY, institution for decades, with cold sesame noodles unrivaled across three counties. While these aren’t exactly its version (not even close, in fact), a yearning for my long-lost Tuesday night take-out has inspired me to pick myself up, dust myself off and create a new cold Asian noodle to call my own.

A sneak peek down the page to the photos and ingredients listed below should raise eyebrows (and hopefully pique interest) that these aren’t your run of the mill cold sesame noodle. Being the fan of fiber that I am, these noodles are doubled down with shredded kale and a surprise kick from some chopped dried plums -- which, as an aside, sound so much more pleasant than a bowl full of prunes, don’t they?

If you’re new to soba noodles, err on the side of undercooking them. They’re done in a matter of minutes in a pot of boiling water and can easily trip into a gummy over-cooked place of sadness. Don’t take the “run the cooked noodles under cold water to stop them from cooking” note too lightly, either. You’ll thank me when you’re enjoying this simple and delicious Dinner Rush! as a leftovers lunch the next day.

Cold Ginger Soba Noodles
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

For the dressing
4 teaspoon sesame oil
6 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon miso
1 clove garlic, finely grated or pasted
1-inch knob ginger, peeled and finely grated
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup warm water
(12- to 14-ounce) package soba noodles
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
2 to 3  kale leaves, stemmed, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup pitted dried plums, chopped

Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing; reserve.

Drop the soba noodles into the boiling water; once the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer the noodles until tender, 2 to 3 minutes.  Drain the cooked soba noodles and run them under cold running water to chill them thoroughly.  Transfer the noodles to the mixing bowl with the prepared dressing.

Add the scallions, basil, kale and pitted prunes to the bowl and gently toss to combine.  Adjust the seasoning as needed with tamari or soy sauce and Sriracha.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

COOKS NOTE:  If you’re craving a lighter meal, just enjoy the noodles as they are.  If you want a bit something more, they lend themselves perfectly to accompaniment by some seared salmon or grilled chicken or pork.

Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee and Bobby Deen, he now works as a food stylist and producer in NYC by day and a food writer and recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following his latest tweets on Twitter at  @patrickwdecker  or visiting his website at  patrickwdecker.com .

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