Oodles of Noodles

I used ramen noodles in my last post, and most of you know about those. But here are some other Japanese noodles you might not be as familiar with.

Udon – a thick noodle made of wheat flour that traditionally seems to be used almost exclusively in soup dishes, served with broth and often topped with tempura veggies or shrimp. I’m hoping to make a dish called “fox noodles” with udon before the end of the month.

Somen – a thin wheat noodle, often eaten chilled with a dipping sauce in the summer, but also used in soups and other dishes.  There’s another noodle in between the size of udon and somen called Hiyamugi, but I haven’t seen that one in my local market.

Shiratakithese are clear, “glass noodles” made from the starch of a root plant called konnyaku, most famously used to make sukiyaki, which I also hope to make before the end of the month. Yikes! So much good food, so little time…. :)

And the noodle of the evening, Soba!  Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour, and are most popular in Northern Japan, around the Tokyo area.  I have previously cooked with the brown ones pictured above, which are “plain” buckwheat noodles. If you’re looking for a whole grain past option, you  might want to check these out, they have a nice texture! I bought the green ones last year, called cha soba, which are made green by the addition of powdered green tea. But I never knew what to do with them until I started looking at all these Japanese recipes. Here’s my take on the traditional cha soba dish, chilled noodles with a dipping sauce, usually served in the summer.

Cha Soba
1 small pkg. cha soba noodles
drizzle of sesame oil
sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds
roasted nori seaweed, cut with a scissors into thin ribbons, or crumbled
minced ginger
green onion, sliced
dipping sauce
wasabi, to taste

Dipping sauce (make ahead):
2 tsp. bonito flakes
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. mirin
1/2 tsp. sugar

Make the dipping sauce early enough so that it can cool. Boil together the ingredients for a few minutes, then strain to remove the bonito flakes. Cool.

Boil the cha soba (or regular soba or somen noodles) until al dente (apparently that concept isn’t owned by the Italians even though their language is used!). Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water. Drain thoroughly, then toss with sesame oil and seeds. Distribute the noodles into serving bowls and top with nori ribbons or crumbles. Mix the green onion, ginger, and wasabi with the cooled dipping sauce. To eat, dip each mouthful of noodles into the sauce as you go, and enjoy!

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3 responses to “Oodles of Noodles

  1. Karin, do you have a recipe for Tori Zo-sui (Chicken, egg and rice stew)? I used to eat it all the time at Waraji (it’s traditionally served after the meal – but I ate it as a main course)?

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