10 July 2012

An abundance of shiitakes has graced our little urban farm over the past few weeks, and we've been having fun experimenting with recipes both old and new. I just can never get tired of the rich and tangy taste of shiitakes. I'm so glad we're growing them this year!
We have to thank our friend Anna for introducing us to the joy of cold soba noodles in the summer. Chilly weather doesn't stop us from making these delicious buckwheat noodles, but it's oh so much more satisfying when the sun is shining. We had them for dinner on Sunday, holding our bowls in our laps on the porch swing, and marveling at the 8pm sun still going strong. This was the first time we've used sliced shiitakes in this "soup", and it definitely won't be the last!  This recipe is infinitely versatile, and it's one of those more-or-less to taste recipes that you can tweak to your liking. Plus, it's a really simple way to introduce yourself to Japanese cooking! It may look daunting, but it's actually quite simple and takes less than 30 minutes of prep. Here's how we make ours:

(Click through for the recipe!)

Cold Soba with Shiitake Dipping Sauce 
Serves 2-3
  • 3 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 cup cool water
  • 1/4 tsp bonito flakes OR fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbs mirin or rice wine (optional)
  • 1 package soba noodles
  • 2 - 4 shiitakes
  • Toasted sesame oil or other oil for sautéing
Optional Add-Ins
  • Tamagoyaki (egg pancake - get easy recipes here and here)
  • Nori (seaweed) cut into strips 2" x 1/4"
  • Chives
  • Matchstick-sliced cucumber
  • Grated ginger
  • Wasabi
  • Sesame seeds
  • The sky's the limit!
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and follow the package directions to cook the soba noodles. Let them boil until they are al dente. Drain, rinse in cold water and put in fridge to chill.
  2. Whisk together soy sauce, sugar, bonito flakes or fish sauce, mirin (if using) and water in a medium-sized bowl. The ratio of these ingredients can be adjusted to taste keeping in mind that this is a dipping sauce as opposed to a soup. A little too salty to slurp is just fine.
  3. If you're using grated ginger or wasabi, now's the time to mix them in.
  4. Allow the sauce to chill in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Slice shiitakes about 1/4" thick. Sauté in oil on medium heat until cooked through, then chill.
  6. When all ingredients are chilled, distribute noodles into bowls. Arrange other ingredients on top: shiitakes, nori, tamagoyaki, chives, cucumbers, etc...
  7. Here's where we break the rules. Traditionally, the sauce is served in a separate bowl, and chopsticks are used to grasp the noodles and other ingredients and dip them into the sauce. We tend to splash sauce all over ourselves (plus we like to eat on the porch swing) so we find it easier to just pour the sauce over the noodles.
  8. Eat and enjoy!
Note: All of these ingredients can be found in your local Asian market, and most of them can be found in the international section of your local grocery store. Let me know in the comments if you create your own version. I'd love to hear from you!

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