This Soba Noodle Salad with Pork and Peanut Sauce is a refreshing chilled noodle salad. You’ll love the bright array of colors and the flavorful sauce coating the chewy buckwheat noodles. It’s a satisfying main dish that makes a perfect light meal as leftovers. It might become one of your new favorite weekday lunches!
Disclosure: This post and recipe were sponsored by the National Pork Board when it was originally published in March 2021. I was compensated for my time. Since then, updates were made to the information and/or images to improve the overall quality. As always, opinions are my own. I did not receive additional compensation for these updates.
Earlier this year I was invited to an event all about pork. As a registered dietitian who loves everything food, it was such a treat! It was a fun-filled three-day event with lots of delicious food, engaging panel discussions, and even a field trip to a farmers market for some hands-on cooking in a teaching kitchen.
This event was really interesting to me because we didn’t just talk about pork nutrition. Instead, it focused on how pork is used in cuisines around the globe. It’s the most commonly consumed protein in the world, according to recent data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
As soon as I arrived home, I felt more motivated than ever to experiment with pork recipes. I have more in the works, but in the meantimes, this Soba Noodle Salad recipe needed a refresh.
So here’s the latest version, which still features pork tenderloin medallions and a creamy peanut sauce!
Why You’ll Love This Soba Noodle Salad
- There’s plenty of contrast with flavors, textures, and colors. If you easily get bored with the same recipes on repeat, this can snap you out of your rut in no time!
- The peanut sauce for this soba noodle salad doubles as the marinade for the pork tenderloin for convenience.
- Since this pasta salad is served chilled, it’s a natural fit for meal prep and makes a great option for leftovers.
Even as a dietitian, I sometimes struggle to eat enough vegetables. I love them, don’t get me wrong. But a recipe like this one helps me load up my plate with plenty of crisp veggies. It’s a win-win when paired with pork and soba noodles!
Soba Noodle Salad Ingredients
Don’t be intimidated by the seemingly long list of ingredients. Such is the nature of making a homemade sauce that doubles as a marinade!
These may not be pantry staples for you, so add them to your shopping list or set up a grocery delivery with this ready-to-shop list from Instacart. It’s an affiliate link, so if you place an order I’ll earn a small commission to help keep the blog running.
Let’s start with the creamy peanut sauce. The dressing ingredients include:
- Sweet chili sauce. Let your life be easy and use something store-bought (even though homemade is an option). I like Thai Kitchen as a good all-around sauce.
- Creamy peanut butter
- Canned coconut milk
- Rice vinegar
- Sesame oil
- Low sodium soy sauce. You can swap for tamari or coconut aminos if you need a gluten-free option, but the flavor will be slightly different.
- Grated ginger and minced garlic
Next, gather up the ingredients for the soba noodle salad:
- Pork tenderloin
- Soba noodles, plus water for cooking
- Carrots, red cabbage, and green cabbage
- Persian cucumbers
- Fresh cilantro
- Chopped peanuts
- Lime, toasted sesame seeds, and sliced hot peppers, for an optional garnish and extra flavor
Equipment Needed: Cutting board and sharpened chef’s knife, a pot to boil the soba noodles, baking sheet for the pork tenderloin, and measuring cups and spoons. You’ll also want to grab a mixing bowl large enough to combine all ingredients together before serving
I’ll guide you through the cooking process step by step. But first, if you’re not familiar with soba noodles, let’s quickly talk about what makes them special and how to cook them!
How to Cook Soba Noodles
Soba noodles are a type of Japanese noodles made with buckwheat flour. They come in a long, thin shape and have a distinct nutty flavor due to the buckwheat. In Japanese cooking, they’re usually served chilled with few other ingredients to let the flavor shine. Less traditional preparations (like this one) feature more ingredients in bowls, salads, or soba noodle stir fry recipes.
I love the chewy, almost bouncy texture when they’re perfectly cooked. Find soba noodles at Asian grocery stores or online. They usually come in packages with pre-measured bundles for convenience. They can be stored in the pantry, but seal the package tightly if you don’t use them all at once.
Like most other noodles, they cook in boiling hot water. But until wheat-based pasta, the cooking time is pretty short. Package directions usually say to boil for only 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so the noodles don’t stick to each other.
I think the key to preparing the best soba noodles for this recipe is to undercook them. Even less than what the package instructions call for. If overcooked, they get gummy with excess starch and clump together. It’s very difficult to mix in the sauce at that point.
I think this soba noodle salad with pork tastes the best when you get a little bit of everything in each bite – so make sure you don’t overcook the noodles!
Street Smart Nutrition Tip: Despite what the name implies, buckwheat is not actually wheat. Soba noodles made with buckwheat are gluten-free. However, check labels carefully as some soba noodles have wheat flour added and would therefore no longer be a gluten-free option.
How to Make Soba Noodle Salad with Pork and Peanut Sauce
The cooking process is broken into two phases: the pork tenderloin and the soba noodle salad. Be sure to account for the marinating time when planning your meal.
Start with the pork tenderloin first, as this takes the longest to cook. Follow these steps to prepare the marinade for the roasted pork tenderloin:
- Mix all the ingredients for the creamy peanut sauce in a measuring cup. Whisk it together until creamy and smooth, although there will be some chunks from the garlic and ginger.
- Pat the pork tenderloin dry. Place it in a gallon-size ziplock bag and add 1/2 cup of the prepared sauce. Seal the bag and squeeze to coat the pork. Chill in the fridge for at least four hours, or overnight if you can. Seal the rest of the sauce in an airtight container. It can stay at room temperature if cooking the same, otherwise store it in the fridge.
- When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prep a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil. Transfer the pork tenderloin to the center, then spoon the remaining marinade over the top.
- Bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until the pork reads 145 degrees F in the center.
- Take it out of the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing into medallions.
Street Smart Nutrition Tip: To learn more about food safety and cooking with pork, check out this resource on endpoint cooking temperatures. And if you haven’t already invested in a reliable meat thermometer, you should! This ThermaPro Instant Read Digital Meat Thermometer is an affordable one for home cooks.
Assembly and Serving
Once the pork is halfway cooked, start phase two for the soba noodle salad. Slice or shred all the fresh veggies and bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Add the soba noodles to the hot water and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Strain in a large colander and run until cold water to rinse and cool the noodles to stop the cooking process.
Place the cooked soba noodles in a large bowl along with the fresh veggies (carrots, cabbage, cucumbers) and cilantro. Drizzle with the creamy peanut sauce and use tongs to mix and combine.
To serve, plate the soba noodle salad and add the sliced pork tenderloin on top. Drizzle with any remaining dressing (optional) and garnish with crushed or chopped peanuts, sliced hot peppers, or sesame seeds. Add a lime wedge to the side and squeeze over the top just before digging in. Enjoy!
Swaps and Substitutions
This soba noodle salad recipe is loaded up with veggies as it is. But you can easily start there for some swaps or substitutions. Base your final recipe on what you like, what you already have, or what you need to use up. It’s rather forgiving and you can try these additions:
- Sugar snap peas or snow peas. Steam them before adding for a tender, easy-to-chew texture.
- Baby bok choy
- Red bell pepper, sliced into long thin strips
- Mung bean sprouts
- Green onions or spring onions
Pretty much any type of crunchy veggies can work well. Let your taste buds be your guide, as this recipe is flexible and easy to modify.
You can also mix things up with the creamy peanut sauce. Try adding fish sauce or miso paste to make a more tangy dressing, or mix in some sriracha or a similar red-pepper sauce to make it spicy.
Storage and Meal Prep Tips
The best thing about this cold soba noodle salad recipe is there’s no reheating required for leftovers!
Since the pork is fully cooked, you can serve this soba noodle salad straight out of the fridge the next time you’re ready to eat. Or, pop the pork into the microwave and reheat until warmed through if you want to.
Keep leftovers or meal prep portions in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. This recipe is not a great candidate for freezing, although you can make the sauce up to a week in advance if you want to.
Soba Noodle Salad with Pork and Peanut Sauce
- measuring cups and spoons
- cutting board and sharpened chefs knife
- gallon size ziplock bag
- large pot
- large colander
- tongs and serving utensils
- Baking Sheet
Creamy Peanut Sauce
- 2/3 cup sweet chili sauce
- 1/3 cup peanut butter, creamy
- 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced, or at least one tablespoon
Soba Noodle Salad
- 1 lb pork tenderloin
- 7 oz soba noodles, plus water for cooking
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1 cup shredded green cabbage
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 small cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup chopped peanuts
- 1 medium lime, cut into wedges
- sesame seeds, garnish (optional)
- hot peppers, sliced, garnish (optional)
For the Creamy Peanut Sauce
- Add all ingredients to a measuring cup and whisk together until combined.
- As written, recipe will yield approximately 1 1/2 cups. Divide into one 1/2 cup portion to use as the marinade and reserve the rest for serving.
For the Pork Tenderloin
- Prepare the pork tenderloin by patting dry. Place in a sealed bag with 1/2 cup of the prepared sauce. Allow to marinade for at least four hours (or overnight if preferred).
- When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with foil. Transfer the pork tenderloin to the center of the sheet pan. If desired, spoon some of the remaining marinade over the tenderloin before placing on the center rack of your oven.
- Bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until 145 degrees F in the center. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing into 3/4" thick medallions.
For the Soba Noodle Salad
- Once the pork nears the end of cooking (last 5-10 minutes before removing from the oven), prepare the other ingredients for the soba noodle salad. To cook the soba noodles, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Place the soba noodles in the water and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.
- Strain in a large colander and run under cold water to rinse, cool, and stop the cooking process. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the prepared carrots, cabbage, sliced cucumbers, and cilantro. Drizzle with the creamy peanut sauce and use tongs to mix and combine until evenly coated.
- To serve, place the sliced pork tenderloin on a bed of soba noodle salad. Drizzle with additional dressing, if desired, and garnish with crushed peanuts, sliced hot peppers, or sesame seeds (if using).
If you give this recipe a try, I’d love to know what you think! If it helps you become more mindful at mealtimes, let me know in a comment.
Plus, don’t skip over my Ground Pork Egg Roll In A Bowl recipe or Sweet Miso Pork Stir Fry. Since pork tenderloins are often sold two per package, it’s another delicious option that uses some of the same ingredients! And you can always find more delicious pork recipes in the archives from the National Pork Board.