Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hot Soba Soup

Warning: This broth, like the other kombu broth is めんどくさい (mendokusai) - troublesome or bothersome and not for the lazy cook.

Japanese food should look simple. Clear broth, buckwheat noodles, a few condiments, but it is probably very Buddhist, or very Zen (not sure on my Asian religions) for the simplicity of the end product to come from struggle. Food, after all, is a metaphor for our own mortality so add your thoughts on that here.

Ingredients: (serves 4)
  • 8 cups water
  • large piece of good quality kombu
  • 2 large handfuls of katsuoboshi (dried bonito flakes)
  • 4 T. mirin
  • 2 T. sake
  • 4 T. shoyu
  • 3 bundles soba noodles
  • Condiments like:
    • kamaboko
    • par-boiled greens like pak choy, choi sum (nothing too strong so not mustard cabbage)
    • leftover fish, tako, tempura
    • negi including the whites (Japanese green onion)
Note: I did not have the amount of time I needed to get the broth where I wanted it to so I also added 2 packets of kombu dashi powder, a few pieces of dried daikon, and after I strained it, I used some misoshiru no gu that I had in the pantry (which added  some ebi, wakame, dehydrated kamaboko and iriko)

Directions:
  1. Soak the kombu in water overnight. (Remember, kombu should not be boiled because it gives off a naturally occurring chemical like MSG)
  2. Transfer the water and the kombu in a pot and heat it up. Just before it starts boiling, take the kombu out. 
  3. Add the katsuoboshi and simmer for 30 seconds. Turn off the heat and let it simmer in the pot for about 10 minutes. Most of the flakes should sink to the bottom as it rehydrates and flavors the dashi.
  4. Set a large strainer lined with paper towels over another pot and strain the liquid. Squeeze the paper towel to get all the broth out. You now have your base stock. 
  5. Add the mirin, sake, shoyu and heat the broth up again to boiling. Taste and salt as needed. Cover and let it sit on simmer until the noodles are ready.

Soba directions:
  1. Get two pots of boiling water ready plus one colander and one large bowl for rinsing
  2. Cook the soba in one pot (about 3 1/2 minutes)
  3. Drain the water and put it in the large bowl.
  4. Rinse the soba by hand to get the film off of the noodles.
  5. Put the soba in the 2nd pot of water to heat it up again.
The finish:
Prepare your condiments, place warmed up noodles in bowls and let everyone put in their condiments and broth.

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