Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Soba Noodle Bowl

Soba noodles are my new obsession. In all honesty, I'm somewhat of a noodle whore and my cravings will often be satisfied by almost any pasta. However, soba is my choice of the moment and I found an organic brand at the Super 88 that is both delicious and cheap (about $3 for 3 noodle bundles). I have no doubt that soba can also easily be found at Whole Foods or perhaps even Stop & Shop these days.

There are myriad ways to prepare soba and what you will find below is a rather bastardized Asian preparation. But it's delicious and filling, as well as reasonably quick. I love composed salads, like salade nicoise or cobb salad, and I think this falls into that realm. Over a bed of seasoned noodles is a mix of vegetables. In this version, I've used carrots, broccoli, bean sprouts, tofu, and dried mushrooms, but I can think of many variations that would be equally lovely. I'd recommend trying it also with sweet potato cubes, thinly sliced red bell pepper, spinach, pea pods, baby bok choy, or shredded savoy cabbage. For you carnivores out there, the tofu can easily be substituted with shredded leftover chicken or a little beef or pork sauteed with a sprinkle of soy sauce until crumbly. I've never tried the dish with fish, but I think some leftover salmon would be delicious too.

The point is this is an opportunity to improvise, use up what's leftover in your fridge, and get creative. Below are the directions for the vegetables I used, but you can throw caution to the wind and use whatever you like, just make sure to taste test the vegetables for doneness along the way.

Soba Noodle Bowl
serves 2
  • 1 bundle soba noodles
  • soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • 2 1/2 c. mixed vegetables cut into bite size pieces (carrots, bean sprouts, dried mushrooms, broccoli, tofu)
  • chili garlic sauce
  • optional: 2 fried eggs to top the bowls
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and then salt the water. Add the soba and cook as directed on the package. Using a pasta fork, remove noodles when done and drain in a colander. Be sure to save the boiling water! Divide noodles between two bowls and season with 1 t soy sauce and about 1/4 t sesame oil each. Set aside.

Now it's time to cook the vegetables. I recommend cooking the "hardest" ones first. By that, I mean cook first the ones that will take the longest, such as carrots, potatoes etc. Cooking time will vary depending on the vegetable and their size, but don't worry, just taste as you cook and keep track of the doneness. Worst case scenario: you overcook them a bit, which is really not the end of the world. Blanch veg one by one in boiling water until tender and then remove with a slotted spoon to drain. Make sure to save the water for the next one. The order for the vegetables I used was: carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, tofu, bean sprouts. After draining, arrange vegetables over noodles and top with little dashes of chili garlic sauce to taste (don't over do it - you can always add more later). Top with a fried egg, if you so desire.

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