Sharing Food and Memories with Friends and Family

April 20, 2012
Irene Saiger


Soba Salad

I look back on my childhood and wonder how I felt as a young girl walking through the front door of our home knowing that the language would shift from English to Yiddish.  My recollection is that I always liked Yiddish, having positive associations with the language and understanding that the words were so much more expressive than their English counterparts.  To this day there are certain words that I have never found an English equivalent for.  One of my favorite words is fagin, a word my mother often used.  Loosely translated it expresses the act of denying oneself the pleasure of an indulgence.  It takes several English words to capture that one word in Yiddish and the sentiment is still lacking.

This week I heard an interview with Professor Udea who published the first Japanese-Yiddish dictionary after spending twenty years of his life dedicated to producing this scholarly work.  The NPR interview made me smile, especially when hearing Professor Udea’s Japanese-accented Yiddish.  My father used to insist that Yiddish was a dying language and when I find evidence to the contrary, I am delighted.  One of my mother’s favorite expressions was that it was a lebidikeh velt,  and she was right.  Guess what we are having for Shabbat dinner tonight?  Japanese inspired Soba Salad.  Gut Shabbos.

For those of you who might be interested in learning some Yiddish, take a look at   

Soba Salad

12 oz. Soba noodles, cooked in boiling water for about 6-8 minutes.  Drain and rinse very well, actually washing the noodles in cold water to remove all excess starch.  Set aside.

1 red pepper

1 scallion

1 avocado, thinly sliced

1 block firm tofu, cut in cubes

6 oz. shiitake mushrooms sliced

1 bunch of greens of your choice, chard, spinach, steamed

2 Tb olive oil

1 tsp sesame oil

Thinly slice red pepper, scallion and avocado and set aside.  Slice mushrooms and sauté over high heat for about 5 minutes.  Add sesame oil and set aside.  Steam spinach.

1/2 cup soy sauce
2 Tb rice vinegar
2 Tb maple syrup
3 Tb Agave Nectar
5 Tb peanut butter
1/4 cup water
Whisk all ingredients together till smooth.   Adjust sweetness to your taste.  Assemble salad ingredients in shallow dish and dress.  Serves 4-6

7 thoughts on “Soba Salad

  1. Git morgen, Irene.

    I wish I could write to you in Yiddish. You made me laugh because I thought you were talking about figs which is “fagin” in Yiddish, but I realized that you were talking about “fargin” which is something like not begrudge or begrudge depending on the other words in the sentence. I wish I had heard the interview. Remember the Japanese group that came to the hotel in Jerusalem when we were there to celebrate David’s Bar Mitzvah? They were wonderful. As for the recipe, it sounds delicious. We both love noodles and I have to try to make it for us. It even sounds relatively easy which makes it even more tempting to try, especially in my case.

    Love, your shvester.

    • Hi Anita,

      You should click on the link and listen to the interview. I have to look it up to see if it is fagin or fargin. It is easy!!! Jeff loves noodles and it is buckwheat so relatively healthy too.~~

      your shvester

  2. Perfect recipe for all my twenty-something shabbat dinners! Where do you buy agave nectar?

  3. great post!

  4. Yum is all the saying one needs…..

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