This fresh and fragrant cold Asian noodle salad is made with soba noodles and juicy grilled shrimp. The dressing is full of fresh flavors from ginger, lime zest, cilantro, sesame, mint leaves and chili pepper. It’s a sweet, sour and salty appetizer!
Why make this recipe?
If I were to sum up this recipe is one word, it would be freshness. This salad is full of fresh and intensely flavorful ingredients. It balances classic flavor combos like lime and cilantro and shrimp and noodles with Asian-inspired ingredients like ginger and sesame. The dressing is loose and saucy and full of intense flavor. The lime zest gives the salad a delicious fragrance as well.
Even though there are a lot of ingredients involved here, this salad is very easy to make.
The same ingredients that go into the marinade also go into the dressing. That means you only have to mix one batch and then simply divide it.
Marinade and dressing ingredients:
- Soy sauce – You can use regular soy sauce or low sodium soy sauce. The recipe card below lists the details for both the regular and the low sodium versions.
- Sesame oil – You will want to use toasted sesame oil in this recipe. Unlike untoasted sesame oil, which has an almost neutral flavor, toasted sesame oil adds a delicious, nutty sesame flavor. You can tell whether your sesame oil is toasted or not just by looking at it. Untoasted sesame oil is almost colorless, while toasted sesame oil has a deep amber color. (Note that toasted sesame oil often just says “sesame oil” on the bottle. But if you look at the ingredient list on the back of the bottle it will say that it’s toasted.)
- Fresno chili pepper – Fresh Fresno chili pepper adds to the freshness of this salad. If you can’t get your hands on a Fresno chili pepper, I recommend substituting jalapeno.
- Freshly grated ginger root – Technically you could substitute ground ginger but I really don’t recommend that for this recipe. This salad is all about freshness and the juicy and aromatic fresh ginger is an important part of that.
- Finely chopped mint leaves – Mint leaves add a fresh, cool flavor and fragrance to this salad. But you can skip them if they’re not available.
- Soba noodles: Soba noodles can differ slightly from brand to brand. Some soba noodles are made purely with buckwheat flour while others are made with buckwheat flour and wheat flour. (This is the reason why soba noodles can have different colors, ranging from light beige to gray/brown.) Either type of soba noodle will work for this recipe.
How to make it:
See full ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below!
Step 1. Prepare the fresh ingredients.
Step 2. Add all dressing/marinade ingredients to a liquid measuring cup.
Step 3. Whisk until well combined.
Step 4. Pour half of the mix into a bowl and marinate the shrimp in it. Refrigerate the other half (this will be the dressing for the salad).
Step 5. Cook the soba noodles.
Step 6. Grill the shrimp, then mix with the noodles and the dressing.
Recipe notes & tips:
- Be sure to rinse the cooked soba noodles thoroughly under cold water until they are completely cold. If you don’t do this, the excess starch on the outside of the noodles will cause them to clump together.
- The insides of a Fresno chili pepper are quite spicy. Wash your hands well after handling the ribs and seeds of the pepper or wear disposable gloves.
How spicy is this salad?
The spiciness of this salad is determined by how much of the ribs and seeds of the Fresno chili pepper you leave on.
Red Fresno chili peppers are about as spicy as jalapeno peppers. Most of the heat of any pepper sits in the ribs (also called the pith) of the fruit. Since the seeds are touching the ribs, they pick up some heat from there as well. That means that the more ribs and seeds of the pepper you remove, the milder the dish gets.
Can I make it ahead?
Yes. You can make all three components (the grilled shrimp, the dressing and the noodles) a few hours ahead. Store each of them in a separate container in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve the salad, toss everything together and add the chopped mint leaves.
More delicious Asian-inspired recipes:
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Full Printable Recipe
Cold Asian Noodle Salad with Grilled Shrimp
- measuring cups and spoons
- knife and cutting board
- garlic press (optional)
- citrus zester (for the ginger and the lime)
- 2-cup liquid measuring cup
- small mixing bowl
- plastic wrap
- large pot with lid
For the marinade/dressing:
- ⅓ cup soy sauce (or see notes for a low sodium option)
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- ⅜ teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger root
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- zest of 1 small lime (about ¾ teaspoon)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced or pressed through a garlic press
- ½ Fresno chili pepper,* finely chopped (all the heat is in the ribs and seeds, so remove some or all of them for less spiciness)
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil**
- 4 teaspoons honey
For the salad:
- 6 ounces raw shrimp (I like to use extra large or jumbo), thawed, peeled and deveined
- 4 ounces soba noodles, uncooked
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves (can be skipped, if not available) (you need about 18 medium-large leaves or about three 4-inch sprigs with fully grown leaves for that)
For the marinade/dressing:
- In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, mix all marinade/dressing ingredients together until well combined.
For the salad:
- Pour half of the mix (about 5 ½ tablespoons) into a small bowl. Add the shrimp to it, cover and marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge. Cover the liquid measuring cup with the remaining half of the mix and keep in the fridge as the salad dressing.
- Cook the soba noodles according to package instructions. Drain the noodles, rinse them thoroughly under cold water, then set them aside.
- Take the shrimp out of their marinade and grill until cooked through and opaque in the center (a few minutes).
- Mix the grilled shrimp into the soba noodles, drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with the fresh mint.
Nutrition Information (Estimated):
Nutrition values provided on this website are generated from a nutrition database and are estimates only. The accuracy of the nutrition information for any recipe on this website is not guaranteed. Nutrition values can vary quite a lot depending on which brands are used.