Saturday, March 31, 2012

Soba Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms--Japanese Style

The moment I tried soba noodles I knew there was something familiar about them; they are made of buckwheat flour. Buckwheat is a very popular in Poland type of gluten free kashi, that is served in many vegetarian or meat dishes. I have always liked it very much, but for my kids buckwheat's aroma is too strong. But when I once cooked soba noodles, they liked them very much, even plain just with soy sauce. I usually use them to make a vegetarian dish, which I enrich with a kind of omelette, cut in strips, and added at the last moment.

It was a Japanese recipe that I learned from one of the best Asian cookbooks I have ever seen. I bought it years ago in London for just 5 pounds. I think it was printed in Australia and had the greatest recipes and most beautiful pictures that could impress any food lover even today. After moving out of England I used that book as my culinary bible for all Asian recipes and learned most of my Asian cooking from it.

When I came to the U.S. I lent it to a friend of mine. Unfortunately, our relation loosened when I got busy with my first son and soon after that she moved out of DC area, we lost touch, and I have never got my book back. And whenever I desperately need it for all its wonderful recipes, a Polish proverb "A good habit is not to lend" comes to my mind. It could never be more true. This soba noodles dish is only inspired by that book, as I do not remember all the details after 15 years. Nevertheless, I make it pretty often these days and enjoy very much. Japanese cherries, which bloomed recently all over DC, made me want to share this recipe.

Soba Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms
(Serves four)

About 8 oz (two bunches) of dried Japanese buckwheat noodles,
A bunch of spring onion, sliced,
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms,
1 inch of fresh ginger, grated,
3 garlic cloves, minced,
3 tbsp rice bran oil,
4 tbsp low sodium soy sauce,
2 eggs,
1 tsp spicy chili crisp (which is chili marinated in oil),
1 tbsp black or roasted sesame seeds.

1. Beat two eggs with a pinch of salt and make a flat omelette. Cut it in half, put each half on top of the other, and slice them to create thick ribbons.
2. Bring water to boil in a large pot. Add soba noodles and cook until soft for about 5 minutes.
3. Wash shiitake mushrooms, remove stems,and cut into slices.

4. Heat oi in a large frying pan with high walls. Add garlic and ginger and fry them for about 3 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms and fry them (sauté)until they first release some juice and later turn gold. It will take about 10 minutes. Pour in soy sauce, chopped onion, pepper, and chili crisp.
5. Drain cooked noodles on a colander. Add to the pot with fried mushrooms and mix gently.
6. Add sliced omelette. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

I like it very much with seaweed salad or fresh cucumber in rice vinegar.