It’s the depths of winter in Kyneton and I’m struggling. Winter seems awfully long this year, which is perhaps a result of me having two summers in a row preceding it, or that I’ve moved to a part of the world that inherits its weather from a small, cold, cloud-loving mountain. My Instagram and Pinterest feeds are full of North American summer cocktails, fruit, lake houses and sandals, making me long for warmer climes. Which is how I ended up making one of my favourite summer night dishes in July: soba noodles with smoked salmon, avocado and mirin dressing.
I first had something like this dish eight years ago in a small noodle bar in Melbourne and I’ve been making versions of it ever since. My attempts at the dressing were never quite right until I added mirin.
Mirin is a clear, golden cooking wine made from rice. It’s a relative of sake and adds flavour and sweetness to Japanese dishes. When combined with sesame oil and tamari or soy sauce, the dressing is sweet, nutty, salty and just the thing to bring simple noodles to life. If you don’t have mirin, you can substitute sake with a pinch of sugar at a 3:1 ratio (and then you get to drink the rest of the sake bottle with your noodles).
This dressing is also excellent over sautéed spinach or try combining a teaspoon of mirin, soy sauce and sesame oil in the well of half an avocado for a fancied-up snack.
This soba noodle dish is served cold, and is a great option for lunch boxes or pre-prepared weeknight meals because once the noodles are cooked, all that’s left to do is assemble. Slices of avocado and smoked salmon sit on top of the chilled, dressed noodles and are finished with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and chives. If you like some heat, wasabi adds some interest to this simple combination.
It’s summer style cooking that can be enjoyed all year round, providing respite for those of us still in the root vegetable and soup phase of the year.
Soba Noodles with Smoked Salmon, Avocado and Mirin Dressing
Serves 2 hungry people, or 2 with some leftovers for lunch
- 125g soba noodles
- 1-2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 1/2 an avocado
- 100g smoked salmon
- Wasabi (optional)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons mirin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 3 cm finely chopped fresh ginger
Put a big pot of water on to boil. While that comes to temperature, place all the ingredients for the dressing in a screw-top jar and shake to combine. Set aside.
Cook the soba noodles according to the packet instructions. Rinse under cold water when done and place in a large bowl.
Toss the noodles in half the dressing and divide into two serving bowls.
Divide the smoked salmon and place on top of the noodles, along with slices of avocado. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped chives. Drizzle everything with remaining dressing. Add a squirt of wasabi on the side if you fancy it.