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The Famous CIBI Soba Salad

Food

CIBI is one of those spaces that make a neighbourhood. Much more than just a cafe, CIBI is a meeting place for the community. Tucked away in a quiet backstreet of Collingwood, the loyal cast of regulars working and living in the surrounding streets have been coming to CIBI since 2008 for its humble, nurturing Japanese food in a space that cares for its community and fosters relationships.

With a core philosophy of ‘head, hands, heart’, founders Meg and Zenta Tanaka’s entire ethos is based around making the little, everyday things beautiful.

In their 10th year of operation, they have finally released a long-wished-for cookbook for people to recreate signature CIBI dishes in their own homes. We’re lucky enough to have them with us for the next month to share some of their simple, Japanese-inspired meals.

5th June, 2018

Meg Tanaka, one half of Collingwood’s most-loved Japanese cafe, CIBI! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Lucy Feagins, Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Zenta and Meg Tanaka first opened CIBI in 2008, and it has since become a neighborhood staple. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Lucy Feagins, Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

‘Many of our regulars come in just for this salad,’ says Meg! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Lucy Feagins, Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

All you really need for this salad is soba noodles, lemon and soy sauce. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Lucy Feagins, Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

CIBI, published by Hardie Grant, is available in stores nationally. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Lucy Feagins, Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

A soba salad with a slightly western influence.  Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Lucy Feagins, Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Meg Tanaka
Tuesday 5th June 2018

‘When I created this dish, I wanted to add a touch of western flavour so that it became a cafe-like dish as well as a CIBI dish.’ – Meg Tanaka.

In Japanese ‘cibi’ (pronounced ‘chi-bee’) means ‘a little one’. Each one of us was once a cibi, enjoying that pure and innocent time, when we could do whatever we liked. A cibi is always curious, exploring and playing. A cibi treasures their favourite things and relishes favourite foods to satisfy a healthy appetite.

We opened CIBI, our concept store – a multipurpose cafe, store, event and neighbourhood space – in 2008 as a way to enrich the everyday lives of our customers, team suppliers and our neighbours.

We have been serving our soba salad since we opened CIBI. When I created this dish, I wanted to add a touch of western flavour so that it became a cafe-like dish as well as a CIBI dish. Many of our regulars come in just for this salad. This is a simpler version that you can cook at home anytime. All you really need in your cupboard is soba noodles, soy sauce and lemon!

Ingredients

30g Japanese bean curd
200g dried soba noodles
2 handfuls mixed salad leaves
90g cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 avocado, cubed
1 tablespoon finely chopped spring onion
1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds

Soba dressing

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon tamari

Olive relish

100g pitted green olives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive brine
juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Method

To make the olive relish, combine the olives, olive brine, lemon juice and oil in a bowl. Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste and mix well. Set aside.

To make the soba dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl with 50ml water and mix well. Set aside.

Drain the bean curd and rinse it with hot water to remove any excess oil. Dry it lightly with paper towel. Pan-fry both sides in a frying pan over a low-medium heat until light brown and crispy. Remove it from the pan and let it cool, then slice it into 1 x 5cm rectangles.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the soba noodles and cook, following the packet instructions, until they are just al dente. Drain the noodles and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process and wash off excess gluten. This will help give the noodles a nice texture.

Arrange the salad leaves on plates.

In a large bowl, combine the noodles, tomatoes, avocado, bean curd, spring onion, sesame seeds and dressing and mix well. Top the salad on each plate with a helping of the noodle mixture. Garnish each with 1 teaspoon of the olive relish and serve the rest of the relish on the side.

This is an edited extract from CIBI by Meg and Zenta Tanaka published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $50.00 and is available in stores nationally and online

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First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net