Friday, June 13, 2008

Soba Noodle Salad

Soba noodles are Japanese noodles made of buckwheat flour, gray-brown in color with a nutty flavor, are served cold with a dipping sauce on the side or hot as a noodle soup. Traditionally when served cold, the cooked noodles are presented on a naru, a bamboo wicker plate, the sauce is dashi broth (japanese basic stock made of kelp, dried fish flakes and water) flavored with soy sauce and mirin (sweet rice wine) with a side of wasabi (horseradish), grated daikon radish, shredded nori, green onions. The sides are shared family style, each serving of noodle is accompanied with a bowl of sauce to dip. It's a very simple clean meal.

I took the flavors from the Japanese tradition and made a one meal salad using oysters mushrooms as a major component since they looked so fresh at the market. These mushrooms are great, they grow off of trees so they are free of dirt and are easy to prep. They grow in clusters of varying size so tear them apart gently with your hands and tear in half only the large caps, they will shrink up considerably when cooked. Do not prep them until ready to use and store them in a paper bag in the frig, not the vegetable drawer and don't plan to keep them around too long. Oyster mushrooms can be substituted with other varieties of your favorite mushrooms - shiitakes, portobello, button, etc.

Instead of the dashi broth I used my ponzu sauce from a previous post and flavored that with a bit of wasabi paste. Wasabi paste is sold already made in a tub and also as a powder, which is made by adding the same amount of powder to water and mixed into a smooth paste.

Soba Noodle Salad Recipe:
3 bundles of soba noodles
3/4 pound of oyster mushrooms
2 cups of julienned cucumbers
2 cups of sweet baby lettuce, rough chop
1/2 - 1 cup ponzu sauce
Wasabi paste to taste

Cook soba noodles in boiling salted water until they are firm but tender, just past the al dente stage.
Drain noodles and rinse in cold water and set in a bowl large enough to mix the rest of the ingredients.
Prep oyster mushrooms and toss lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper and saute. Adding minced garlic to the oyster mushrooms are an option.
Allow to cool slightly before adding the mushrooms to the bowl with the noodles.
Add the julienned cucumbers, I used 3 persian cucumbers but hot house cucumbers will work nicely as well.
Once all the ingredients are in the bowl, toss lightly with about 1/4 cup of ponzu sauce.
Divide the salad onto plates and serve extra ponzu sauce and wasabi either on the side or mixed into the sauce.

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