Stella, May I know what you eat on such a warm day?

9:14 PM Stella May 0 Comments

Of course you may! My mother would make me and my sister cold soba noodles and they were delicious! When I was perusing the aisles of the supermarket, I spotted a pack of these soba noodles and thought it would be such a nice meal. If you were in Atlanta last week it was quite cool, so soba noodles didn't seem appropriate. The weather this week is now in the eighties! It's perfect for soba noodles. 
Soba is Japanese for buckwheat. Unlike the popular udon noodles, soba noodles contain all 8 amino acids. Udon noodles are wheat based and they are missing lysine. I just cooked these according to the package directions.
 The most important step is to rinse the noodles.
 You want to rinse off the starch on the noodles. This way the sauce will be able to absorb into the noodles and the noodles won't thicken the sauce as you eat. I've read that you don't just want to rinse it but to really wash it. I use my hands to really stir the noodles around and remove the starch.
 I also like to really cool down the noodles. So I ice it.
The big bag is bonito flakes. The shrimp and mushrooms are accouterments to the noodles. This is where you can get really creative. Try some thinly sliced nori (seaweed), green onions, carrots, ginger, sesame seeds, or nanami tohgarashi (seven-flavor chili pepper).
 To make the sauce: start with making a dashi. Add big handful of bonito flakes to 1½ cups of boiling water.
 Boil for ten minutes.
 While that's boiling, I put the noodles in little piles. This makes it so much easier to eat!
 After 10 minutes, strain out the bonito flakes.
Mentsuyu is a salty, sweet soy sauce based soup base. It's the dipping sauce for the noodles. Mentsuyu is made of kaeshi and dashi. Kaeshi is a mixture of soysauce, mirin and sugar. Dashi is bonito stock. This is a lot of japanese words that I learned when researching this recipe. My mother used to buy Mentsuyu concentrate from the store, but when I looked up the recipe online, I realized this is fairly simple to make and I can control the ingredients I use.
 Add in 1 tablespoon of sugar.
 2 tablespoons of mirin.
 Mirin is a sweet rice wine.
 ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.
 A light sprinkle of hondashi. Since I already made dashi with the bonito flakes, this step is really not necessary. I would just do one or the other. If you didn't want to make the dashi beforehand, then use hondashi.
 After the sugar dissolves, remove it from the heat and cool it. I've also read that you should never let the mentsuyu boil as that will make the mixture cloudy. If scum does form at the top, just skim it off. This recipe makes more than enough for two. I save the rest of it for a hot soba noodle recipe, I'll post that next week!
 We don't have traditional dipping cups, so we used our insulated coffee cups as dipping cups.
 We served it with some shrimp and mushrooms.
Dip each pile of noodles into your mentsuyu and slurp it in! It's nice and refreshing for such a warm weather.

Mentsuyu recipe (generously serves two)
1½ cup of bonito flakes
⅜ cup of soy sauce (or ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons)
⅛ cup of mirin (or two tablespoons)
1 tablespoon of sugar
Boil the bonito flakes for 10 minutes. Strain. Add soy sauce, mirin, and sugar into the stock until the sugar dissolves. Cool and it's ready to use!

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