Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cold Soba

When exam crunch time rolls around, which is all too often, time is precious and there's very little of it that can be set aside to cook. Now, that's not to say I stop cooking all together, I just have to spend my time wisely. Anything that can be made in less than 30 minutes is good (as long as it's not remotely connected to Rachael Ray), less than 15 is ideal. Which brings me to one of my favorite meals, cold soba. It's simple, healthy, and delicious. I boil some noodles, make the dipping sauce while the noodles cook, and sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds, seaweed, sliced green onions on at the end to make it look pretty because pretty food keeps the morale up while studying. It can be cooked, slurped, and the dishes washed in under 30 minutes. And it's healthier than ramen, which will be a post for another day.

Buckwheat is high in protein, good for your cardiovascular system, and just does a lot of great things for your body. When you buy soba noodles, make sure to look at the ingredients list, and if buckwheat is not the first ingredient you see, don't buy it. Preferably, the noodles should be 100% buckwheat. Cheaper, low quality noodles often cut their buckwheat with yam or other ingredients. Cold soba is particularly refreshing after a night of heavy takeout. If I have more time to spare, I'll pan fry some tofu to add on top and make a cucumber salad for a more complete meal.

Like most people, I rarely have dashi stock just sitting in the fridge so I usually just use water. Or I cheat by simmering some bonito and seaweed with the soy sauce and mirin when I'm making the sauce, let sit for a few minutes, and strain. If you have chicken stock or vegetable stock that will work too.

Cold Soba
Serves 2

2 bunches of soba noodles

Soba sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp mirin
1/2 tsp sugar (more to taste)
1/4 C Dashi stock (or chicken/vegetable stock or cheater dashi-see note)

Toasted Seasame seeds
Sliced green onions
Seaweed slivers
Grated daikon

Boil water in a saucepan and cook the soba noodles according to package instructions.

While the noodles cook bring the ingredients for the sauce to a boil then remove from heat and set aside.

When the noodles are cooked, drain the soba noodles. Return them back to the pot and fill with cold water, swirl the noodles around, drain and repeat this process until the water is no longer starchy and cloudy. Put the drained noodles on a platter or bamboo tray. Top with whatever garnishes you want.

Pour a little sauce in a bowl, pick up some noodles, dunk in the sauce, and slurp to your heart's content.

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