Soba Noodle Stir-(Salad)-Fry

August 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

E: We’ve featured recipes from Nick at Macheesmo many times since we started this blog. But, and I speak for both of us here at Nombudsman when I say this, it is because we have a lot of respect for his creations (not to mention a burning desire to make almost all of them). When I saw this recipe go up recently, I had to try it. I wanted to make something that had a lot of veggies, and I wanted to do something different than the regular stir-fry with brown rice that I default to. The soba noodles really made this dish that much better and more flavorful than plain rice would have. (As a plus, I was home in Mass. at the time visiting my parents, and this dish seemed like something they would enjoy, which was indeed the case.)

not the best view of it, but this stuff is delicious!

Soba seems to me to be the forgotten child of the pasta world. I don’t see it often in stores, nor do I hear about it often from other people. Consequently, I rarely cook with soba and each time I rediscover it, it comes as a bit of a surprise. But soba noodles are generally available if you look for them. And though they are pricier than plain wheat pasta (think anywhere from $2.99 to $7.99 for a package) they have good stuff in them like buckwheat, which is part of what gives them their delicious, hearty, nutty flavor. You can safely stay away from the really expensive stuff:  the plain types will give you the same experience, just without exotic flavorings like mugwort. If you haven’t tried soba before, this is a great recipe with which to start. If you have, then you already know what I’m talking about.

This dish is basically a bunch of veggies, lightly fried and tossed with soba noodles. Nothing gets cooked very long, so I reserve the right to call it a salad. But it is technically a stir-fry as well. To make your Soba noodle stir-(salad)-fry, based on Macheesmo’s Summer Soba, you’ll need:

1 package of soba noodles (8-12 oz. or use rice noodles if you want to be gluten free)
1-2 C. green beans, trimmed
2 ears corn
1 red bell pepper, diced
2-3 carrots, shredded or julienned/cut into thin sticks
2 scallions, sliced thinly
1-2 Tbsp. canola oil for frying
(You may need: 1-2 Tbsp. sesame oil to toss the soba noodles)
(Optional: Basil, chopped peanuts for garnish)

2 Tbsp. soy sauce (I used shoyu, but you can use a tamari if you are being gluten free)
1 Tbsp. mirin
1 serrano/jalapeño pepper, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 inches fresh ginger, minced

First thing to think about:  when are you going to prepare your soba? You need to cook it according to the directions on the package. If you start it when you start preparing the veggies, you’ll need a tablespoon or two of oil to toss it in when it is done cooking. Otherwise, as Nick wisely warned his readers, it will stick together and end up an impossible mass. I started mine later so it finished just as my veggies did, and then I could toss it with them and maybe add a touch of extra oil if necessary.

Once you have that figured out, start preparing all the vegetables. Trim the green beans, shuck, de-silk, and wash your corn and cut the kernels off the cob. Wash and dice the bell pepper, and cut up the carrots. I cut mine in half across their length to form two shorter pieces, and then cut those into rectangles. Then I could slice each into thin strips, and cross slice the strips into long thin sticks (cut carrot is wet and slippery, so this is a risky operation if your knife is dull:  be warned). I had already peeled the carrots so I sliced up the bits I had cut off to make them rectangular in the first place, but you could discard those pieces and use that as your peeling step if you wish. Slice the scallions thinly (Macheesmo’s recipe suggested using only the greens, but I used everything because I like scallions). Mince up the garlic and ginger for the sauce, and dice the hot pepper (with or without seeds is up to you, but I left them in according to the original recipe and I thought it was a good level of spiciness).

a whole host of veggies

By now you should have a ton of vegetables sitting around. Make your sauce by combining the soy sauce and mirin, and then adding the minced garlic and ginger and the diced hot pepper.

I've never cooked with mirin before, but I daresay I'll do so again

Time to start cooking the vegetables. Heat up some oil in a wok or large skillet, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the corn, bell pepper, and green beans and cook for a few minutes.

cooking the first three vegetables

You want to time this so the beans are bright green and cooked just as you are taking things off the heat. I’d say cook the first three vegetables for only 3 to 5 minutes, then add in the carrots and the sauce. Cook that for 1-2 minutes. By now the beans should be just about done. Cook only as long as it takes to get the beans to the done-ness you want. The carrots beans and corn should all still be snappy. As a final step, mix in the scallions and the noodles and take the pan off the heat.

off the heat

Chop the peanuts and slice the basil if you are using them for a garnish. Plate, serve, and enjoy!

the final product ends up a little inelegant, but very tasty

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