Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Soba Noodles with Unagi
This is another easy to prepare noodle dish. Do not be discouraged by its foreign sounding name. It is yummy. It is healthy. It is Japanese and the Japanese are known for their simple and nutritious dishes.
Soba is a thin type of Japanese noodles made from buckwheat flour. The Japanese themselves prefer this type of noodles over rice or other kinds of noodles because it has a high amount of Thiamine (protection against beri-beri). Soba is readily available in major groceries and supermarkets here. I am sure it is available around the world in any Asian grocery as well. Here is the pack of soba that I was able to purchase.
The instructions were in Japanese!!! But I gathered that these noodles are to be boiled for 6 minutes (some Japanese words/symbols are similar to the Chinese). And from the pictures, I gathered that the noodles are supposed to be washed/blanched in cold water after boiling. So, that is what I did! And the resulting texture of the noodles were perfect al-dente!
We now make the dashi soup stock. You either buy a ready made dashi (which I did) and simply dissolve the pack in water. Or you can make dashi from scratch, which is simple, actually. Just boil some bonito (thin fish flakes) in water, strain the flakes out and you got your dashi soup stock!
To make the sauce, which the Japanese call "tsuyu," we combine an equal amount of dashi and a good quality Japanese soy sauce and some mirin (Japanese sweet wine). You can add some wasabi paste to the soup/sauce if you prefer. This is what we did to make our noodles more spicy!
(Shhh... I also found there is a ready-made tsuyu available in the supermarket! You do not even have to make this sauce anymore!)
Arrange the noodles in the serving bowl. Add the tsuyu. Top with slivers of nori (seaweed) and chopped scallions. Eat with chopsticks! Slurp! Slurp! Do you know in Asia, we consider it polite to slurp the noodle soup? Because it "tells" the cook that you enjoy your food! :)
That is the basic cold soba dish. It is more of preparing and combining the ingredients rather than cooking. There is also a hot version of soba. But usually the cold version is preferred because that is the best way to experience the texture of the noodles. If you put the noodles in hot soup, they may get soggy and change their consistency.
You may eat the cold soba dish as is. Or for a more complete meal, you can add tofu, steamed fish or any meat.
For our first soba experience, I topped it with Unagi (ready-made, it was bought frozen) cooked Japanese broiled eel!
I am sharing this easy and healthy noodles dish with the Presto Pasta Nights community, headed by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. This week's host is Psychgrad of the Equal Opportunity Kitchen. To see last week's delicious pasta recipe, please click on the round-up here.