Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cold Soba Noodles with Tsuyu Dipping Sauce

It's been awhile. I must say that there have been too many things happening in December/January. When I say too many, I mean too many to have time to type up blog posts and upload my food photos.

Not to worry, I am slowly getting back into my Melbournian routine. And slowly finding precious little pockets of time to think about my blog and prepare more blog posts.

A friend who's moving countries recently gave me the remainder of her cooking ingredients and condiments to play cook with. Among them were a few unopened packets of plain and green tea soba noodles, dashi stock powder, Japanese dark soy sauce, mirin and toasted black sesame seeds. Just the right ingredients to make cold soba noodles with the accompanying dipping sauce, tsuyu.

I lovelovelove cold soba noodles! Especially the green tea variety - the smokiness of the green tea in the noodles adds another dimension of flavour to this simple dish that makes me want to eat more and more. So I stumbled across this awesome website that is quite useful if you are interested in learning to cook Japanese dishes, and have little knowledge of the cuisine (apart from eating it!). You can check it out here.

It's easy to make at home, and costs you a lot less than the $8-10 charged at Japanese restaurants.

Cooking the noodles


Cooking the soba noodles is easy enough - just follow the instructions on the packaging, and don't forget to rinse the noodles in cold water after. I rinsed my noodles twice in cold water just so they were the right amount of cold :) And make sure you strain them well in a colander to get rid of any excess water that may be hiding between the noodle strands.

Making the tsuyu dipping sauce


So this tsuyu sauce is a combination of dashi stock, and this other thing called "kaeshi". I just used the instant dashi powder to make my dashi stock. And to make the kaeshi, here's what I did:
  1. Simmer 45ml of mirin for a few minutes - I used the Mizkan Honteri Mirin
  2. Add in about 35g of caster sugar and stir to dissolve.
  3. Add 250ml of dark Japanese soy sauce - (not to be confused with thick soy sauce) I used the Ichibiki soy sauce, some recipes say that Yamasa is also a good brand. Have this on low heat until it starts to bubble, then take it off the fire. Don't let it boil.
  4. At this stage, I tasted the kaeshi and felt that it needed more sugar - so add a little more sugar to taste, if need be.
As you have probably realised, this recipe makes a lot of kaeshi. But you can store it in an airtight container or jar, for a few months apparently.

From here, I used a small amount of the kaeshi to make tsuyu for one person. To make the tsuyu I mixed 3 tablespoons of the kaeshi with 6 tablespoons of the dashi stock and simmered it for 2-3 minutes. It's good to taste the sauce at this point and add more dashi stock if you like. Then I chilled it for about 20 minutes in the fridge.

Serving the soba noodles with the tsuyu

I put my noodles in a bowl and sprinkled some toasted black sesame seeds over it. I served the sauce in a little bowl on the side, and just dipped the noodles in the sauce for each mouthful.

The next time I make cold soba noodles, I'd like to try having it with cold soft silken tofu, some finely sliced spring onion, and maybe tempura vegetables.

This meal is fairly quick to make (once you've made a batch of the kaeshi), and is really healthy :)

I'm not a total noob when it comes to Japanese food - I've made a few sushi rolls in my uni days. But nothing more apart from that (and now these noodles). So this is all pretty new to me. I must say, that thanks to this friend of mine and all the ingredients she has given me, a whole new world of cooking adventures has opened up. (Yayy!)

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