sesame soba and ribboned omelet salad

In times of lots of worry and little sleep, like most of us, I return to my comforts and staples: avocado toast, a great pot of meatballs, and as many ways as I can find to intersect noodles and eggs. While I am fairly certain I could live off this fiery, crunchy spaghetti pangrattato with crispy eggs for the rest of my life, as bits of spring have been in the air, I am always ready for fresh takes on cold noodles.

what you'll need
blending sesame seeds to paste

Flipping through Heidi Swanson’s wonderful Near & Far a few weeks ago, I became entranced with the cold soba salad in part for the ingredients but really it was the footnote at the end that stayed with me: “Serve topped with a poached egg or an omelet sliced into a whispery-thin chiffonade.” Whispery-thin chiffonade. Could anything be so lovely? I imagined the strands of eggs tangling with the strands of noodles, punctuated with a sesame-seed flecked sauce and crispy raw vegetables and I needed it in my life.

whisky whisky
rolled up cooked eggs
ribboned omelet

And then, as these things happen, a few days later I was clicking aimlessly around the web while I should have been, I don’t know, writing a cookbook or responding to email and fell down a summer ramen rabbit hole. Sure, we’re all about the ramen everywhere these days, but as the weather warms up in Japan ramen shops add a chilled ramen [Hiyashi Chuka Soba] to their menu, usually topped with, among other things, those ribboned eggs that charmed me. The dressing uses ground sesame seeds, sesame seed paste, vinegar and sesame oil, which you know means it will be amazing and the options for etceteras are as long as your imagination (or as deep as the odd-ends of your vegetable drawer go, though imitation crab, cucumbers and tomatoes are the most common). That said, dishes like this can get complicated quickly and we’re firing on fewer cylinders these days, so I attempted to hone in as much as possible on the eggs and the noodles. When it’s actually summer here, I’ll probably pile on more seasonal vegetables.

sesame soba and ribboned omelet salad

One year ago: Potatoes with Soft Eggs and Bacon Vinaigrette
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Sesame Soba and Ribboned Omelet Salad
Inspired by Heidi Swanson’s Near & Far and No Recipes’ Goma Hiyashi Chuka [Sesame Ramen Salad], dressing from the latter


  • I know I sound like a broken record, but I would love to convince you to always toast your nuts and seeds before using them. For sesame seeds, you can do these in a skillet over low heat but you must watch it like a hawk and stir often because once they start picking up color, they go from golden to brown very quickly. This time I did it in a 350 degree oven, stirring every 5 minutes (I also go ahead and do the whole jar, so I have them for the next time). It took longer but the flavor was off the charts. When I ground the seeds, the whole apartment smelled nutty and wonderful.
  • The water in the omelet ribbons may sound odd, but I found the final texture of the eggs a bit softer and more apt to ribbon without breaking with it. If you’d like, you can use mirin (sweet wine) instead of water, and skip the sugar.
  • I love using soba (buckwheat) noodles here but ramen noodles are more traditional, and most rice noodles or rice “sticks” are gluten-free. You can make this a vegan dish by omitting the egg ribbons.

Serves 4 for dinner

4 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons soy sauce (use low-sodium for a less salty sauce)
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon tahini
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar, or more to taste
Chili sesame oil to taste

Omelet Ribbons
Neutral cooking oil, to coat skillet
3 large eggs
3 teaspoons water
A few pinches sugar
A few pinches salt

1 9.5-ounce package buckwheat soba noodles
Raw vegetables of choice (we used julienned carrots, cucumbers and radishes, plus some snipped chives on top, which have recently reappeared in my garden!)

Make the dressing: Put the toasted sesame seeds into a blender or food processor and run the machine until the seeds look like wet sand — it will take a couple minutes. Add the water, soy sauce, tahini, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, salt and chili sesame oil and blend until combined. Taste and adjust ingredients to your preferences.

Make the omelet ribbons: Whisk eggs with water, sugar and salt until well-blended and even in color. Heat a 10-inch skillet (I really like using a nonstick here and for other crepe-like things) over medium and coat very lightly with cooking oil. Pour in 1/3 of mixture, which will be enough to coat the pan very thinly. (If your pan is bigger or smaller, use less or more accordingly per batch, the goal is to keep the egg very thin.) Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the egg has set and the edges look dry. Carefully flip* the omelet and cook for 20 to 30 seconds on second side. Flip egg out onto paper towel to blot oil and repeat 2 more times.

Stack the three omelets together and roll them into a log. Use a sharp knife to slice the roll into very thin ribbons, thinner even than you see in my photos.

Cook the noodles: In well-salted water until tender but firm for the time recommended on your package of noodles, usually 4 to 5 minutes. Drain noodles and run cold water over them to cool. Drain again, shaking out excess water.

To serve: My favorite way for a family meal is to put everything out in separate dishes and let each of us assemble to taste. (Or, if you’re this one, grab the bowl of egg ribbons and help yourself.) Or, you can toss the noodles with about half the sauce, then arrange it in a bowl with the omelet ribbons on top, followed by your vegetables. Garnish with extra sesame seeds and serve with additional sauce on the side.

* One day, when I have video on this site, I will demonstrate my crepe-flipping “method” for you but hopefully this will help until then: I use two thin spatulas (such as offset icing spatulas or a flexible fish spatula). The first smaller one goes under the edge and lifts the omelet/crepe enough that I can hold the second larger spatula in my other hand and slide it under enough that it goes past the center of the omelet/crepe. From here, it’s easier to flip without tearing.

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82 comments on sesame soba and ribboned omelet salad

  1. Sylwia | Vibrant Food Stories

    I’ve been thinking of trying out some new dishes with soba noodles, and here it is! Brilliant idea with the ribboned omelet!

  2. Robin

    This is exactly what I want to eat all the time. I make something similar (not often enough) and I really like the addition of chopped sushi ginger. Even if you aren’t a huge fan as a side to your sushi mixed here with egg and noodles and the salty sauce it really pulls everything together.

  3. Shannon Murphy

    I’m loving Near & Far, and those noodles are on my list to cook soon. Heidi’s food is perfect for the coming season!

    Also, hooray for the water trick! I’ve always had trouble getting eggs to slice as thinly as I’d like to top noodley type dishes…

  4. SallyT

    Thank you! This looks like EXACTLY what I want to be eating. Hope you get sleep soon!

    Question – how long did it take the sesame seeds to toast in the oven? Thanks!

  5. I somehow missed the omelet suggestion in Near and Far- this looks brilliant. Noodles and eggs are my favorite quick meal, and I love your translation of the idea to cold noodles.

    1. Bridget

      This was so tasty! I forgot to add water to the eggs but my little omelets turned out well. I’ll give credit to the outstanding nonstick crêpe pan i have as it’s good to get the eggs spread thin and easy to flip. Suppoe when your mom was a French teacher and you grew up eating piles of crêpes…it’s required that the adult you owns a pan.

  6. deb

    The baby is going to be just fine. I’m so sorry for worrying everyone; I mean, we are worried and it’s been a long 10 days but she’s very much on the mend, her fever is fairly low and she’s also rather smiley. You know, this stuff is just super-scary for parents because we had no idea she was in so much pain and it breaks your heart. Catching up on the rest of comments ASAP. And thank you.

  7. JP

    Not picking on your typos because you and the little one have had a hard time of it. I actually rather like this: “the goal is to keep the eggs very thing”. I know just what you mean, and am sure this must be delicious. Will be trying it. Thanks for a new recipe even when you are traveling over the bridge of troubled waters!

  8. Jenna

    Also don’t want to pick on your typos (I also have a baby with a cold & ear infection, so I know the effects of sleep deprivation all too well) but the “sesame seed pasta” flummoxed me for a little. (“What’s sesame seed pasta? In a dressing?”) I then realised you meant paste! :)

  9. Anna

    I can’t wait to try this! I found your blog long ago, when your son was tiny, and I was childless and googling for peanut sauce. Now you have two kids, I have a beloved kid of my own, and I could make that peanut sauce with one hand tied behind my back. I’m so happy to have another recipe for cold noodles, and I’m almost tearfully received that your baby is okay! Xoxo.

  10. Lauren

    Heidi has some great things to offer on her site.I love to give the easier ones a try when they appeal to me. This falls in that category. Like you, she is also a talented photographer and has “Favorites Lists” every so often that really are wonderful. You can find all kinds of things on there. Much like your many links to amazing reading and articles, cooking products, and silly videos. The world of food blogging is so wonderful to peruse, but nobody else has Jacob and Anna… so you are tops! (Top left corner of my favorites page, numero uno.) Those eggs are making me think of so many Easter Brunch applications…YUM! Thank you Deb, these look great!

  11. Anna

    There are only two people who can post recipes that I read in the morning and I’ll be making them for lunch – you and Heidi Swanson. So when you do a version of one of her recipes, it’s guaranteed I’ll be making it, and sure enough, I’m sitting here eating it now! Thank you so much, it is amazing.
    Sorry to hear that Anna hasn’t been well, but glad to hear she is on the mend. Can’t believe you manage to try new stuff AND take photos AND post it on here right now! Look after yourself too :-)

  12. Sara

    Oh my gosh, I totally missed that Anna’s hair had grown in RED! <3 <3 Beautiful! I'm sorry she's been sick – we've been dealing with a lingering virus with our 10-month-old, too.
    And YES, cold noodle salad fixins in the fridge at all times need to be a summer goal for me … :)

  13. emily

    I always add a little water to my eggs when I make an omelette, and even sometimes when scrambling them. It makes them lighter and fluffier.

  14. Angie

    Deb, have you heard of acorn noodles? They’re slightly sweet, nutty, and have lovely chew. My husband recently brought them home from the Asian market, to my initial apprehension… But after frying them up with some shallots, garlic, a dallop of miso paste, and a finishing hit of sesame oil, I was eating the best noodles I’ve ever had! We’re addicted! It’s a fun alternative if you ever find yourself burned out on soba. ;D P.S. ~ I do hope your little one recovers soon <3

  15. Leah

    Solidarity with how frightening illness can be! You think you’re a calm, easy-going person – I’m a pro! It’s kid #2! – and then you’re scared and helpless and desperately hoping you can comfort a miserable little one. Glad she’s on the mend!

  16. Sounds just what I need right now, soba noodles being another thing I can live on for weeks. The other – your hibernation fare bean chilli. It has been my go-to dish when I am totally powered out and everything else does taste mediocre these days. I did not know that was one of those side effects when pregnant.

  17. MJ

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! I love soba noodles for a quick and easy meal- and the egg ribbons look intriguing! is there any sesame dressing anyone can recommend to try? currently without a food processor… thank you!

    1. LMB

      I know this won’t help you two years out, but in case other people are wondering: I am sure it’s delicious with the sesame seeds, but I don’t usually have them at home, so I skip that and add three mroe tablespoons of tahina paste instead, then you can just mix all the ingredients by hand.

  18. Susan Iseman

    We buy large jars of toasted sesame seeds- quick and easy and we put them on EVERYTHING. I think their are available in Asian sections/markets.

  19. Lee

    Once again, it’s like you’re in my head, Deb! This is exactly what i’m in the mood for these days. I’d love to make this for weekday lunches. Any thoughts on how long stuff will keep? If I prep all the ingredients separately and assemble day-of, could this be doable for 2-3 days’ worth of office lunches?

  20. Jess

    Have you ever tried Japanese sushi vinegar? Makes everything taste AMAZING (e.g. over anything with avocados and cucumbers) and I bet it would be great on this too.

  21. Anna

    Curt – tahini is completely smooth, and the sesame seeds here just get processed to a sand texture, so they are different.

  22. Coreen

    Can this be made with some tofu for extra protein? We are on a no-meat Friday and looking to add a bit of protein to make this a full meal. Thanks!

  23. stephanie

    my body seems to be in a constant state of noodle craving the past 48 hours. yesterday i bookmarked a noodle recipe, realized i had also requested two other noodle recipes on a couple separate posts in comments, had leftover noodles for dinner, and planned chicken alfredo tonight’s dinner, and now i read this and think “i have all these things, i can make this for lunch.”

    if i turn into noodles…i…well, i probably won’t be able to let you know.

  24. Mary

    Your daughter and I share the same hair! I hope she is soon better and thank you for posting all these delicious and wonderful things! I say this with the highest regard that you are “nutty and wonderful” too!

  25. Hannah

    I had a whole dinner thing planned for tonight involving salmon and asparagus, but damn, I would soooo rather eat this. That julienned omelet is too clever. I would throw some sliced green onions in with the cooking oil. Just a thought…

  26. Erika

    Made this tonight! The sauce is delicious. But I mixed all the sauce w the noodles because I wasn’t paying attention to the directions. This was a mistake. The noodles clumped up and the sauce didn’t spread over the vegetables. It would have been way better to keep the sauce on the side and drizzle over the top of each serving. The egg ribbons worked perfectly and, like you, I wish I’d sliced ours even thinner. I sprinkled rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sliced sushi ginger on top of my mess o’ noodles, eggs, and vegetables to give it all more zing.

    I love these weeknight dinners you’ve been posting!

  27. Joanna

    I will simply call this dressing as magic sauce. This sesame sauce is perfection and my daughter who just turned 4, simply cannot eat enough of it on top of soba or spaghetti noodles. Thank you for introducing me to it.

  28. Tracey

    Made this last week and LOVED it! My omelet was far from perfect but I loved the flavor with the mirin instead of water. Excellent dish, had it for breakfast the next day too. Thanks again for a wonderful recipe!

  29. Lisa

    Paragraph three mentions a sesame seed “pasta” in the dressing (which I assume means paste). Have just now looked up and learned that tahini is made from sesame seeds, but my initial thought was that you meant Chinese sesame paste. Do you know if this would work instead? As I already have some from making your sesame noodles!

  30. deb

    Lisa — Whoops, that’s a typo (fixed, thanks). That said, you could use Chinese sesame seed paste instead of the tahini, but I find that the freshly blended sesame seeds add even more flavor and texture, so I liked them together. That said, I’d expect this dressing to be forgiving if you want to adjust it here and there to what you have.

    Toasting sesame seeds in oven — Maybe 15 minutes? Not sure why it took so long but I was very happy with the flavor and color at the end. I stirred them every couple minutes.

    To make this ahead — Absolutely, however, I’d keep the dressing off until the last minute.

    Yona — I think it’s fine, but anything that keeps it from staying thin will also make the end result less ribbon-y.

    Patricia — Thanks, now fixed.

  31. Ali

    My 3 and 6 year old LOVE this dish!! As does the carnivore hubby! Thank you!! I omit the radish and replace it with cut sugar snap peas. The first time I made it with 4 eggs, but that wasn’t NEARLY enough. This time my kids convinced me to make it with 9 (i wanted 8 and my daughter wanted 10…compromise). 8 would have been perfect. So if your family loves eggs and/or noodles as much as mine does, I’d advise to up the egg count. Amazing and unexpected flavor combinations! Thanks!

  32. chloe

    this was so delicious. i added a minced raw garlic clove and a splash of mirin to the dressing, and served on a bed of baby spinach goma-ae style. will def make again!

  33. Lijia

    Loved this recipe! I made it with the addition of some wakame and sauteed mushrooms I had and almond butter instead of sesame seeds. Turned out great.

  34. Jessica Joseph

    Just wondering… why the added toasted sesame seeds when there’s tahini already? Doesn’t it become tahini once blended?

  35. J. Tamura

    We make this often at home here in Japan, but we usually use Chinese noodles (ramen) rather than soba for this dish. I make tamago yaki (rolled omelet) almost daily for my daughter’s bento. I usually don’t bother with the water and add more sugar than salt, 1 scant tsp. per egg and one pinch of salt per egg. I’ve also got a rectangular rolled omelet pan to make a long roll which I then can slice thickly for the bento or thin slices for the hiyashi chuka. Check google for how to make tamago yaki in one of these rectangular pans. It takes a little technique, but is quite fun.

  36. mitra

    This was shockingly tasty! I was a little skeptical, given the amount of sesame (seeds, tahini and oil), but I was licking the blender bowl clean. The only ingredient I didn’t have was rice vinegar, and I substituted apple cider vinegar, which I’m guessing didn’t impact the final results too much. I will be happily incorporating this recipe into our family dinner rotation!

  37. Jen

    I’ve made versions of this soba several times, and the omelet is addicting and really makes the dish special. Tonight I made the omelet without bothering to flip it, was very excited by the success, and wanted to share!

    In a nonstick pan over medium-low heat, I poured a thin layer of egg. I let it cook through till it looked set on top, then just rolled it up in the pan with the help of a spatula and slid it out. Ready to slice and no flipping ninja moves!

  38. Susan

    This is such a great summer noodle dish – the coziness of pasta but with very little kitchen-heating. I hate washing my blender and my food processor so I buzz the sesame seeds in my spice grinder and then just whisk all the sauce ingredients together.

  39. Louise

    OMG – this has become my new addiction. I really like the so a noodles — adds more flavor. Kind if like scold sesame noodles -but made with tahini so can send to the nut free school.

  40. Lucy

    I loved this, really delicious. The sesame seed roasting/grinding was a bit of a pain, but as mentioned you could pre-roast your seeds in bulk and I suppose you could then bulk grind to have everything ready to go when the need arises.

    Have you tried Nigella’s soba recipe? So simple, and so good, using storecupboard stuff. I fall back on this a LOT, often adding tenderstem broccoli or any other veg I have hanging around.

  41. Rob

    I had a variation of this dish in Japan this summer and went looking for a recipe online. I was delighted to find yours. It is remarkably similar. Well done. Thank you.