Oodles of noodles in a creamy, spicy, umami sesame sauce, with dark, minerally stir-fried purple-sprouting broccoli. Perfect for a quick and easy meal that’s great for your health, and even better for your taste-buds.
This is probably one of my favourite dishes, and part of the reason it has taken me so long to post is that I’m not sure I’ve ever written down the recipe before now. The sauce is made with tahini (aka sesame paste) and my general process is to spoon some into a bowl, then add a few other tasty things until it’s about right. I shall try to be a little more specific in this post.
That said, this is a very versatile recipe – essentially you could use the sauce in any number of stir-fries and salads, but here I’ve gone with a simple soba and purple sprouting combo that I think is delicious.
Soba are a traditional Japanese noodles made from buckwheat flour. You can find them in most larger supermarkets in the UK, although many brands use wheat flour with only a small percentage of buckwheat. You can buy 100% buckwheat noodles, which are both gluten and grain-free, and my favourite are King Soba Buckwheat & Sweet Potato Noodles – the addition of a little sweet potato flour does wonders to prevent the noodles from clumping together while cooking, without compromising the flavour. You can use any other type of noodle you fancy, but the slight bitterness of soba noodles works wonderfully with the sesame sauce.
I’ve used purple sprouting broccoli, which is just coming into season in the UK (the harvest below came from our garden), but you could easily substitute or combine with other dark green leafy vegetables; kale, cavelo nero, tenderstem broccoli or regular broccoli. If I’m a bit low on fresh vegetables then I’ll usually have some frozen broad beans or edamame which would also make a good addition, and if you’re after something a little more substantial, then you can’t go wrong with some fried tofu, marinated in a little soya sauce.
How to make Sesame Soba Noodles
There is very little that is complicated about this dish, but it is worth paying close attention to the purple sprouting to ensure it’s cooked properly. You want it to retain a little bite, but be cooked through so that your jaw doesn’t have to go into overtime.
Firstly, prepare your broccoli by washing it thoroughly and cutting any particularly thick spears in half. It’s best if the pieces are of roughly equal size, as far as is possible, so they cook evenly. Finely slice the garlic and ginger, and slice the spring onions, separating the whites from the greens. Finely slice a red chilli (de-seeded if you prefer less heat).
Bring a pan of water to the boil, and add the soba noodles, cooking according to packet instructions. Drain immediately once cooked and refresh with cold water, before adding a drop of toasted sesame oil to prevent them sticking.
Put a wok over a medium heat and toast the raw sesame seeds for a few minutes until starting to brown, then tip into a small bowl. If you’ve marinated some tofu, fry and then set aside before cooking the purple sprouting. Otherwise, add the oil to the wok and stir-fry the broccoli over a high heat for 2 minutes, then add the ginger, garlic, spring onions whites, and half the chilli. Stir fry for 30 seconds, ensuring the garlic doesn’t catch, then turn the heat down, tip in a few tablespoons of water and put a lid on the wok so the broccoli can steam for 2–3 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the sesame sauce, and dilute with a little water. The sauce will seem quite runny but will thicken when cooked. There are a few options for the spicy element of your sauce – I love using Lee Kum Kee Black Beans in Chilli Oil. You can find them in the world food section of most larger supermarkets, or in oriental supermarkets. They’re super spicy and the fermented black beans add a wonderful savouriness. Alternatively you could use a chilli oil with sediment, or chilli paste, though it’s worth being mindful of any added sugar or salt, so you can adjust the soya sauce and sugar accordingly.
Remove the lid from the wok and skewer a purple sprouting spear to check if it’s cooked – a fork should go through with a little resistance. Let any remaining water evaporate, then add the sauce to the purple sprouting, give everything a stir, then add the noodles. Stir for a couple of minutes until everything is hot through and the sauce is thick and creamy. If the wok starts to look a little dry, add a splash more water.
Serve immediately with a scattering of toasted sesame seeds, and the remaining spring onion greens and red chilli. You could also serve it cold, you’d just need to add a little less water to the sauce (2 tbsp maximum), allow the broccoli to cool a little after steaming, then mix everything together.
Please let me know if you give these a try! You can comment below or use the start rating at the top of this post, or you can follow and tag me on Instagram or Twitter @greedybearbakes.
Sesame Soba Noodles with Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Buckwheat noodles in a creamy, spicy, umami sesame sauce, with dark, minerally stir-fried purple-sprouting broccoli.
- 250g (3 cups) purple sprouting broccoli (sub other dark green leafy vegetable*)
- 160g (5½ oz) soba noodles (gluten or grain-free if necessary, e.g. King Soba brand)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1.5cm piece of ginger
- 1 red chilli
- 2–3 spring onions
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds (I used a mixture of regular and black sesame seeds)
- 1 tbsp oil for frying
- 60ml (¼ cup) water
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 2 tbsp soya sauce
- 2 tsp rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- 1 tbsp black beans in chilli oil (or chilli oil with sediment, or chilli paste of choice)
- ½ tsp soft brown sugar
- 4–6 tbsp water
- 100g cooked broad beans or edamame
- 200g tofu, marinated and fried
- toasted sesame oil
- Wash 250g purple sprouting and chop any especially large spears in half, so they are all a roughly similar size. Finely slice 2 cloves garlic, 1.5cm ginger, 1 red chilli, and 2-3 spring onions, separating the whites from the greens.
- Boil some water for the soba noodles and cook according to packet instructions. As soon as they are done, rinse under cold water and drizzle over a little oil (I use toasted sesame oil) to prevent them from sticking together. Put a wok over a medium heat and once hot, add the sesame seeds. Toast for 1–2 minutes until starting to brown, then tip into a small bowl.
- Return the wok to the hob and turn up the heat a little, add 1 tbsp oil and then the purple sprouting. Stir fry for 2–3 minutes until the leaves are starting to char in places, then add the garlic, ginger, half of the sliced red chilli, and the whites of the spring onions. Stir fry for 30 seconds, then add 60ml water and cover the wok with a large saucepan lid. Leave for 2 minutes so the broccoli can steam.
- In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tbsp tahini, 2 tbsp soya sauce, 2 tsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp chilli paste or oil, ½ tsp sugar and 4 tbsp water.
- Remove the lid from the wok, and skewer a broccoli spear to see if it’s done. If a fork goes through fairly easily, but with a little resistance, it’s perfect. Let any remaining water evaporate, then tip in the sauce and stir for a few seconds, before adding the noodles. Stir fry for a minute or two until everything is coated in sauce and hot through – add a couple more tablespoons of water if the sauce looks a little stiff. Serve immediately, with a sprinkling of sesame seeds, the spring onion greens, and the remaining sliced red chilli.
*Regular broccoli with cook the same as purple sprouting, but for tenderstem you may want to reduce the steaming time by half to avoid over cooking. If you substitute the purple sprouting for kale or cavelo nero, there’s no need to steam it, just stir fry for an extra minute or so.
For a cold version of this recipe, add a little less water to the sauce (2 tbsp maximum), allow the broccoli to cool a little after steaming, then mix everything together in a separate bowl or dish.