I went to Mitsuwa
last Sunday during their “Japanese Gourment Food Fair.” Mitsuwa is one of my favorite places in the world (if I had a car, I think I’d be there every day), and this was my first time going there during an event. I got to nosh on some fresh onigiri, an amazing waygu beef bowl, and enjoy all the flavors of a sake tasting. I even got experience firsthand the alarming volume at which they yell “irasshaimase!” at you when you walk in the door (I had to explain this one to my friend ^_^). I’m very disappointed that I forgot my camera, but we had a fantastic time. I came home with a couple bottles of sake, an obento okazu book (in Japanese!), and some great groceries, including cha soba.
Cha soba are noodles made of buckwheat and wheat that are flavored with green tea powder. This gives the noodles a lovely green shade, as well as a subtle green tea flavor. I’m always searching for colorful foods for my bento-making, so these jumped out at me right away. I prepared them simply, to accompany some seared ahi tuna.
It should be noted that making soba noodles is not like making, say, spaghetti. Just Hungry has this great tutorial on how to properly cook and rinse soba noodles.
Cold Cha Soba with Soy-Mirin Dipping Sauce
Makes 3-4 servings
- 7 oz dry cha (green tea) soba noodles
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
- 1/2 cup roasted shredded nori
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 inch piece of ginger, julienned
For dipping sauce:
- 1 teaspoon dried bonito flakes (katsobushi)
- 1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1/3 cup mirin
- 1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
- Wasabi paste (for serving)
1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the noodles slowly and gently stir into the water until fully immersed. Boil for about 4-6 minutes, until cooked just a bit past al-dente. Rinse the noodles in cold water (as explained at Just Hungry
) until the starchiness of the noodles is removed.
2. Transfer the rinsed and drained noodles to a large bowl. Toss the noodles with the sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds until well coated.
3. Make the dipping sauce: Mix bonito flakes, soy sauce, mirin and sugar with 1 1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, and strain the sauce to remove the bonito flakes.
4. Divide the noodles equally into bowls or onto plates. Top the noodles with shredded nori, green onion, and ginger. Serve with individual bowls of dipping sauce and wasabi paste.
This easy, satisfying meal is perfect year-round and works well in bento boxes too!