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Saturday, 3 November 2012

Cold Soba Noodles with Chilli and Peaches

Adapted from Plenty. This salad is one of the nicest things I have made in a while. It is sweet, refreshing, sharp and spicy. Multi-coloured, and pretty easy to put together too.

One of the things I love about my community is the pot-lucks.  When I first moved in just over two years ago, the concept terrified me. As some of you may know, sometimes, I can be a little tightly-wound – the thought of coming together for a meal comprising of unknown food was too much to cope with. What if the balance of carb/ veg/ protein was off? What if there was too much humous? What if there was Indian and Chinese food? But of course, I was wrong.

The unknown is the best part. Debbie D says this much better than me:

[Communities] such as Wandering Jews, Carlebach Minyan and Grassroots Jews are fuelled by vast pot-luck dinners. Alongside shop-bought goods, guests can showcase their signature dishes to a chorus of ‘Mmm, who made this?’ The quality and quantity of food may vary, but the symbolism of each guest contributing to a communal meal is not lost on the convenors of these transient communities.” (

At this year’s Grassroots Jews New Year, I was privileged to be part of a pot-luck with about 200 amazing people. ‘Mmm, who made this’ went round a lot. This dish came to me through a rumour – someone said, I can’t remember who, that there was a noodle salad with mangoes and aubergine that I just had to try. When I saw it I recognised it immediately as being from the vegetarian cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. And it was delicious. I’m still not sure who made it, but they kindly left the recipe, which is now taped to the fridge in the Moishe House.

Cold noodles is one of my favourite things to eat, and so a week ago I decided to try out this recipe for myself. When I got to the supermarket though, the new-in-season peaches looked so fantastic that I knew I needed to use them. I had also just spent what felt a week of my life grilling aubergines and didn’t really want to cook with them either (you can have too much of a good thing). So here is my variation of the soba noodles in Plenty, with peaches and a few other tweaks.

Serves 3-5, as a salad.


100ml rice vinegar
1-2 tsp honey* (more or less, depending on your tastes)
2 tsp soy sauce (likewise)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 medium sized fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
1-2 tsp toasted sesame oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lime

250g soba (buckwheat) noodles
2 ripe peaches, stoned and sliced (I like to leave the skin on for the colour, it also prevents the fruit from disintegrating into the salad)
1 large handful beansprouts
Toasted broken-up cashews, about ½ a cup
2 spring onions, whites and greens sliced on the diagonal
½ a bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

To make the dressing, warm the rice vinegar with the honey – I used a microwave. When the honey has melted in and everything is warm, remove from the heat and add the garlic, chilli, sesame oil and soy sauce.

Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions (my packet said to cook for 4-6 minutes and I boiled them for 4, but in hindsight I should have taken them out at 3). Drain them and rinse them under cold water to halt the cooking process. Shake off the excess water and leave them to dry a little on a tea towel.

In a large bowl mix the noodles with the dressing and the rest of the ingredients. If not serving immediately, leave out the coriander until you are ready to serve, otherwise it will wilt.

*I have labelled this vegan despite the honey, so feel free to use some sugar or agave syrup if you would like to

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