Thursday, January 14, 2010

Recipe #1: Soba Noodles in Broth with Spinach and Shiitakes

Heron and I love all things with mushrooms and noodles, so this recipe from the NY Times seemed to be a winner. Turned out fair, though we did find spinach AND seaweed to be a bit overkill.

MODIFICATIONS: Removed all seaweed before serving (not our fave). Added a drizzle of sesame oil to the spinach after cooking, as well as red pepper and bonito flakes to the sauce. No sake in the house, so omitted that as well.

MAKE AGAIN? Eh... Heron wants to perfect it, I'm perfectly happy to head to a local Japanese restaurant. Click below for the recipe.

Soba Noodles in Broth With Spinach and Shiitakes


1 ounce kombu seaweed
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
3/4 pound dried soba noodles
12 ounces spinach, stemmed and washed thoroughly, or 1 6-ounce bag baby spinach, rinsed
2 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon sake
2 tablespoons mirin
2 to 4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (to taste)

1. Place the kombu and shiitakes in a large bowl, and cover with 4 1/2 cups hot water. Soak for 30 minutes. Place a strainer over a bowl and drain. Squeeze the mushrooms over the strainer, then rinse. Remove the mushroom stems and discard. Slice the caps thinly.

2. Meanwhile, cook the soba noodles. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, add the soba. As the water comes back to a boil, add 1/2 cup of cold water to prevent it from boiling over. Allow to come back to a boil again, and add another 1/2 cup of cold water. Check for doneness, and if necessary bring back to a boil one more time and add another 1/2 cup of cold water. The soba should be tender all the way through but al dente -- slightly firm to the bite. Transfer immediately to the ice water, and allow to cool for a few minutes, then drain.

3. Bring the water back to a boil, salt generously and add the spinach. Blanch for one minute, and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain, squeeze out excess liquid, and cut the squeezed bundle of spinach into four pieces.

4. Divide the noodles, spinach, mushrooms and green onions among four large soup bowls. In a saucepan, combine the soaking water from the kombu and mushrooms, the sake, mirin and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasonings. Pour over the ingredients in the soup bowls, and serve at once.

Note: If you do not wish to include the sake in the broth, simply omit it.

Variations: You can add protein to this dish in the form of diced tofu or shredded chicken.

Yield: Four generous servings.

Advance preparation: You can make this recipe through step 3 several hours in advance. If the noodles stick together, rinse them briefly with cold water.

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