When it is hot, I crave Mediterranean dishes---ones heavy on fresh tomatoes and eggplant. Dishes that started with olive oil and garlic. As the weather cools, I find myself moving halfway across the world. Noodles still come into play, but noodles known by udon, soba, and rice sticks. Asian foods emerge as the temperatures drop. Stir fries loaded with broccoli and carrots and hot, rich soups with noodles, cabbage, and scallions floating in them.
Part of my journey to Asian food this fall was the arrival of this in our CSA box. This is a Napa or Chinese Cabbage. As usual, I consulted my go to international cookbook, Sundays at Moosewood. This very rarely lets me down when it comes to the non-typical vegetables that show up in our box.
This recipe takes a couple of non-typical ingredients. The first is kombu. Kombu is a flat, green, dried seaweed. I find it in a blue bag at Central Market (I am sure Whole Foods and an Asian market would have it, too). It looks a little expensive, but you only use a little of it at a time. The other non-typical ingredient is dried shitake mushrooms. I buy these in bulk at Central Market as well (again, I suspect Whole Foods or an Asian market would have these too). The price on the container kinda freaked me out (it's like over $60 per pound). However, the mushrooms for this recipe cost $1.60, not too bad.
Unfortunately, my children love this. That makes me sad, less for me. I made the broths ahead of time and then would cut the vegetables and cook the noodles for individual servings.
This recipe serves 4.
or Noodles and Vegetables in a Flavorful Broth
from Sundays at Moosewood
1/2 oz dried konbu (I just estimated)
8 c water
8 dried shitake mushrooms
2 c hot water
5 T soy sauce
1/2 c sake or mirin
1/2 c lg carrot, sliced into thin rounds
8 scallions, cut into 2 1/2" lengths
2 c sliced Chinese cabbage, 1/2" thick
1/2 lb soba noodles
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved (optional, I skipped this)
chopped scallions (optional)
Bring the kombu and 8 c of water to a boil. Turn the heat down, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the kombu (pour through a strainer if you need to). This broth is called kombu dashi. While the kombu simmers, soak the shitake in 2 c of boiling water for 20 - 30 minutes. Remove the shitake mushrooms, reserving the liquid. This broth is called shitake dashi. Trim off and discard the stems of the shitake. Thinly slice the caps into strips. Combine 1 1/2 c of the shitake dashi (this should be all or nearly all of it) and 3 1/2 c of the kombu dashi (save the leftover kombu dashi for another batch of soup. It will last 4 - 5 days). Add soy sauce, sake, and sliced shitake. Simmer.
One at a time, cook each vegetable in the broth (I typically put the vegetables on a slotted spoon and dip into the broth. This makes it easier to fish out the blanched vegetables). Cook until each is just barely cooked. I cook carrots first, then scallions, than the cabbage. Remove the cook vegetables from the stock and set aside. As the take turns cooking, cook the soba in a separate pot of bowling water, according to pkg directions (about 3 minutes). Drain. Divide the soba between the individual bowls (one for each person eating). Arrange on top of the soba the vegetables and two halves of the hard boiled eggs. Pour the very hot broth over top. Garnish with chopped scallions, if desired.