I love doing research on recipes. I look at other food blogs and through cookbooks several times a week to get inspiration and broaden my horizons. As I’ve said before, I grew up in a Mexican American household. We ate a lot of delicious food, but there are so many cuisines out there, I know I have so much more to learn.
Asian foods are some of our favorites. From Thai to Japanese, Chinese, Indian, etc, we love it all! One challenge is that Asian foods are not always the healthiest. This is a generalization, I know, but like Latin cuisine the focus is on flavor and not necessarily the health benefits.
I came across this recipe on another food blog, and tweaked it ever so slightly to fit our own tastes. The original recipe calls for tofu, and aside from not loving its spongy texture, I also don’t like to eat a lot of soy. This recipe is made with soba noodles, and with some slight tweaks could be made gluten free and vegetarian. It has a delicious spiciness to it balanced by the cool cucumber and sharp rice vinegar. Otsu is delicious hot or cold, and is the perfect dish for a filling yet light weeknight dinner.
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- Fresh ginger, cut into a 1-inch cube, peeled, and grated
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3/4 teaspoon cayenne (use less if you don’t like spice)
- 3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce (can use a gluten free soy sauce if necessary)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 12 ounces dried soba noodles
- 1/2 cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds, for garnish
- 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1-2 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Sambal Oelek (Asian ground chili paste)
Make the dressing by combining the zest, ginger, honey, cayenne, lemon juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce, and whisk to combine. While whisking, slowly add in the oils.
Cook the soba in boiling salted water just until tender, then drain and rinse under cold running water. Soba tends to stick to itself, so rinsing in cold water helps prevent it.
While your pasta is cooking, heat up a pan on medium with a small amount of olive oil. Add in some of the whites of the green onion and the minced garlic and cook for a minute.
Add the Sambal Oelek and the shrimp and stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes until your shrimp is cooked through.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the soba, the balance of the green onions, cucumber, and most of the dressing. Toss until well combined. Add the shrimp and toss again gently. Garnish with the sesame seeds when you serve it. You can also garnish with cilantro, but its not our favorite herb.