Ever since I learned that dashi could be prepared quickly, I've been on a huge Japanese noodle kick. I tackled udon early on, and even put together a pretty ridiculous batch of ramen. Now with high spirits I've decided to face my fear of soba.
While I have a deep abiding love for noodles of all kinds, soba has never exactly worked for me at home. Part of the issue is that most recipes call for the soba to be cooked and then cooled. Obviously I'm doing something wrong, because they come out slinky and watery, and seem to repel flavor. Considering I suck at cold soba, I figured I should give hot soba a try.
For help, I looked to Takashi's Noodles. Like the udon, this recipe is remarkably easy to put together once you have the dashi done. The pea pods are cooked in the same pot as the noodles, and the scallions and watercress are just tossed in at the last minute. Yet, the dish is still filling and comforting—you'd think a lot more labor went into it. And, the soba is the best part. It has a great texture with just a little bit of nuttiness.
- For the Soba Broth:
- 5 cups water
- 1 large piece of kombu, approximately 10 by 4-inches, or about 1/2 ounce total, rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups packed katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
- ½ cup Japanese soy sauce
- ½ cup mirin
- ½ cup enoki mushroom, ends trimmed, halved
- For the Hot Soba:
- 12 pea pods, trimmed
- 14 ounces dried soba noodles
- 2 scallions, ends trimmed, both green and white parts thinly sliced at an angle
- 2 sprigs watercress, chopped
- Pinch of togarashi
For the udon broth: Pour water into a medium-sized saucepan. Add the kombu, and let it soak for 20 minutes. Then turn heat to high. When it comes to a boil, immediately remove the kombu with a pair of tongs, and reduce the heat to low. Add the katsuobushi and stir gently. Simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, and then strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard the katsuobushi.
Pour the dashi back into the medium-sized saucepan. Add soy sauce and mirin. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for two minutes. Add the enoki mushrooms, turn off the heat, and cover the saucepan.
For the Hot Soba: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Pour ice into a medium-sized bowl and cover with water. When water is boiling, add the pea pods. Let them cook until they are bright green, about one minute. Remove pea pods with a pair of tongs and transfer to the ice bath. Let them cool completely, and then drain.
Bring the pot of water back up to a boil. Add the soba noodles, and use tongs to stir them so they don’t stick together. Cook until al dente, four to five minutes. Drain when done.
Divide the noodles between four bowls. Top each with 1 ¼ cups of broth, and one-fourth of the enoki mushrooms, scallions, pea pods, and watercress. Add a pinch of togarashi to each if you’d like.