Sunday, January 11, 2009

Quick Fix: Soba/Udon Lunch

It’s really coldy-woldy (as my 3 year old would say). And it’s time for a fantastic coldy-woldy, quick-fix lunch. Now bear with me everyone living here in Japan, I'm not trying to be moronic or corny but I personally find a good soba/udon lunch a real "heart-warming" meal. For anyone whose new to Japanese, I guarantee if you have both tsuyu & soba or udon on hand you can throw yourself this "bread-alone" typical "school-day lunch" fare or hasty dinner.

So here’s how it goes: (I'm guessing this is where I loose the Japanese audience, that's OK...see you next time where I make Vietnamese steamed fetel chicken with prawn sauce)

The cast:
- Men-Tsuyu
- Dashi powder (or fish flakes if you’re a traditionalist, hey if you have time to iron your socks & monogram your hankies why not!)
- Boiled eggs or chikuwa or kamaboko (Getting the kids to peel eggs is a great time filler) - Dried stick of kombu @ 5 cm long (optional, but I really love the flavor it adds)
- 1 cm slice of fresh ginger
- assorted veggies (eg. Daikon, carrots, cabbage, wakame, spinach, ingen, whatever you’ve got on hand, just not broccoli please!)
- soba or udon noodles (personally, I prefer udon, hands down)
- Negi or ko-negi (essential, friends, ESSENTIAL! When you're pg wife is weeping that it just doesn't taste's the NEGI, you forgot)
- Shichimi (for udon) or wasabi (if you’re having soba)

The lowdown:

Throw the kombu into a pot of cold water (about 1 c of water per person eating) soak for 15 min.

While it’s soaking, cut up your veggies smallish. (I like vague words like “smallish” so that I won’t be to blame for the size chopping dilemma, good luck w/ that) I like doing things ‘matchstick’ or ‘waribashi’ size, I think it goes better with noodles than disk or cubes.

Cut the ginger finely so none of your whiny little kids will find a piece & yell loud enough for lawyer boy to hear “Do I HAVE to eat the ginger?”

Bring water to a boil & then take out the kombu when the water is nearly at a boil. Add dashi, (about ½ a tsp per cup) to taste.

Throw in your veggies, (Chikuwa or kamaboko if you’re using) not the negi yet, if you please. (I’m assuming you wouldn’t add cabbage, spinach or soft leafy veggies in till the end too)

Bring it to a little simmer for 2-3 minutes, add tsuyu. Again I’m not going to tell you how much but if you’re gonna have the noodles in it, it should be pretty weak. You can always add more later.
Throw in your leafy business, ginger &/or wakame. Give a little stir & turn off the heat.

Boil your noodles according to the directions. (overboiling is yucky-yucky-yucky!) Drain & serve before all the steam rises & they turn into a giant chunck of noodle that you have to cut with a knife. ARGGGG!!! Personally I have all the bowls ready & serve the noodles straight into the bowls from the boiling water & top with the tsuyu & veggies.

If you’re using eggs, slice them in half lengthwise & put in the bowl.

Bring any condiments to the table & cozy up to the best winter lunchie you’ll ever have.

And that's what she wrote folks!


Lil said...

mmmm sooobbaaa...I love the coldie version since it's summer down here and I almost threw myself a party when I found the tsuyu in an asian shop! I should try the hot version sometime..and I agree with the time I used chopped garlic shoots thinking it would substitute..I was SO wrong..

Kari said...

Perfect, now I know which recipe to use when I want to make soba!

Babylove said...

Ah, yeah, zaru-soba is also a close runner up. I don't know why but I like udon better hot & soba better cold. Negi is like the secret ingr. not that we don't know about it but you don't realize how essential it is to creating the "Japanese" taste. Smell miso before & after adding it. Wish I cld send you a vat of Tsuyu. I think you can make it pretty easy w/ shoyu/mirin & sugar just don't know about incriments.