Enjoy the lingering heat, and the umami, sweet, and salty flavors in this healthy and approachable main dish salad… Naengmyeon or soba noodles, fresh vegetables, and your choice of proteins are lightly tossed with a Gochujang (Korean red chile paste) and rice vinegar dressing. Korean-Style Soba Noodle Salad can be on your table in 30 minutes!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - Recipe Inspiration
I love Asian noodles, and of all the many varieties, buckwheat noodles are my favorite. Naengmyeon noodles (Korean) and soba (Japanese) may be used interchangeably in this recipe. I have also made this dish with Korean dangmyeon (sweet potato starch) noodles successfully. My husband is not a huge fan of dangmyeon noodles with their slippery, rubbery texture. He also feels they are less substantial in this dish, and as it is a main dish salad, it must have substance. 😉
The foundation for this dish is the combination of its flavorful dressing and the noodles. Your protein choice is up to you. I have included in the recipe a simple marinated shrimp, but the marinade would work on chicken, tempeh, etc.
Vary the veggies according to seasonal, fresh options. When I made Korean-Style Soba Noodle Salad for photos, I used crisp red bell pepper, baby English cucumbers, and green onions. Sugar snap peas, mung bean sprouts, snow peas, summer squash (zucchini, crookneck, pattypan) are all great choices as well. I julienned the baby cucumbers, and purchased matchstick carrots (great time saver!).
A traditional cold Korean buckwheat noodle salad would more than likely include an egg. Being an egg lover, I paid homage to that tradition and include one in my not-so-traditional version.
If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you are aware that I do not attempt to recreate authentic, traditional dishes. Rather, I use my well-stocked pantry and my knowledge of flavor profiles to create new (and tasty) dishes. I think you'll love this healthy, main dish salad!
🍜 About Buckwheat and Soba Noodles
While many people (maybe most) think buckwheat is a cereal grain, it is actually a seed related to rhubarb and sorrel. It is naturally gluten-free, high in many important nutrients, and fiber rich.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Soba noodles can be made entirely of buckwheat, but they're often a mixture of buckwheat and wheat flour. The gluten in the wheat flour improves the texture of the soba noodles, so they hang together better. If gluten is a problem, be sure to check the package!
Are Soba Noodles Healthy?
Soba noodles are very similar in calories and nutrients to whole wheat noodles. While protein levels match, the quality of the protein is higher for buckwheat (meaning the body uses it more effectively). It is also lower on the glycemic index, meaning it may effect your blood sugar levels less. If you're not including buckwheat in your healthy diet, I highly recommend it! See Soba Noodles: Good or Bad for more information.
|Soba Noodles, 100% Buckwheat||Spaghetti, 100% Whole Wheat|
|Protein||8 grams||8 grams|
|Carbohydrates||42 grams||43 grams|
|Fiber||3 grams||5 grams|
|Fat||0 grams||0.5 grams|
|Thiamine||18% of the RDI||19% of the RDI|
|Niacin||9% of the RDI||15% of the RDI|
|Iron||9% of the RDI||11% of the RDI|
|Magnesium||14% of the RDI||20% of the RDI|
|Sodium||0% of the RDI||0% of the RDI|
|Copper||7% of the RDI||13% of the RDI|
|Manganese||37% of the RDI||87% of the RDI|
|Selenium||Value not available||59% of the RDI|
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
Shrimp *See Tips*
- 2 teaspoons gochujang
- 2 tablespoons rice wine
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon garlic
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and de-veined (or other protein)
- 8 ounces Japanese or Korean soba/buckwheat noodles see Tips
- sweet bell pepper
- matchstick carrots
- toasted sesame seeds
- 4 eggs (optional)
My work flow goes something like this: Whisk together the marinade, peel the shrimp and add to the marinade, put the water on to boil for the noodles, cook the eggs, prep the veggies, process the dressing, cook the noodles and drain, toss the salad ingredients together with the dressing, then grill the shrimp. Garnish this lovely salad with toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions. Depending on the amount of time required to cook your protein, and the types of vegetables you select, you can have this dish ready in about 30 to 40 minutes. The leftover salad holds up well for lunch the next day...
- Marinate the shrimp - Whisk together marinade ingredients. Add prepared shrimp to the marinade while salad is prepared. If using chicken, you'll want to allow 1-2 hours in the marinade, but tofu, tempeh, shrimp need only 20-30 minutes.
- Make the dressing - Whisk all ingredients together. Set aside.
- Prepare the noodles - Put large pot of water on to boil. When the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook according to package instructions. DO NOT OVERCOOK! Rinse, drain, and toss with a drizzle of sesame oil, then set aside.
- Grill the shrimp (or other protein) - While noodles cook, grill the shrimp over a hot grill. This requires only 1 to 2 minutes per side depending on the heat level of your grill!
- Prepare the salad - Give the dressing a last whisk or shake. Toss the prepared veggies and noodles with the dressing. Top with the grilled shrimp (or other protein), and garnish with remaining scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and egg.
What proteins can I use? Obviously, shrimp is a great option, but not the only option. The marinade is great with chicken, and vegetarians will love it with extra firm tofu or tempeh. Tempeh is great on the grill.
What other vegetables work well with the soba salad? Sugar snap peas, snow peas, summer squash, bean sprouts...
Will other noodles work? Yes. Use your favorite - sweet potato, rice, udon, even spaghetti!
Does the salad keep well? Yes. It will be fine in the refrigerator for 1-2 days providing it is lightly dressed.
I am not a fan of regular ketchup, but I do love gochujang ketchup. I use it when I have it on hand!
🧂 Useful Stuff
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🍷 Pairing Suggestions
We enjoyed this main dish salad with a crisp, un-oaked chardonnay. It would also pair well with a saison or citrusy IPA. Whatever your choice of beverage might be, Korean-Style Soba Noodle Salad is sure to please!