Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat proclaim that this duck and soba dish in their new cookbook, Japanese Soul Cooking, is one of their favorites. What's not to like? Hot soba noodles are served in a warm dashi and soy broth with slivers of perfectly cooked duck breast and green onions fried in duck fat. A final dollop of wasabi is a key accent, brightening the flavor of the rich bird. Best of all, it's an impressive-looking dish that isn't much harder to prepare than boiling a pot of noodles.
Why I picked this recipe: Soba is my favorite Japanese noodle, so I knew I wanted to cook at least one soba dish from the book.
What worked: Duck is not something I'd normally associate with Japanese food, but it's faint gaminess pairs nicely with the earthy soba noodles.
What didn't: I like to render a little more fat out of the duck breasts than possible with these directions, so I started them in a cold pan and cooked them a little longer on the skin side. If you choose to cook the duck this way, be sure to check the temperature and remove the duck from the pan when it hits around 115 to keep it rare. The duck will cook a bit more when added to the hot broth.
Suggested tweaks: Negi are long Japanese onions similar to, but smaller than, leeks. If you can't find them, you can substitute two scallions for each negi.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. Follow her @KateHWiliams.