Something happened on the way to the last Daring Kitchen challenge…
I actually divided the challenge up, and did the work on three separate occasions. To accompany the tempura, I thought I would try making a soba noodle soup. I have long been a fan of the lovely Japanese soup broths I’ve tried, and figured it was time to try it for myself!! So worth it!
Yeah, I won’t bore you with more chat about soba noodles. We had this conversation already. They are good.
What was new to me was making stock out of dried bonito flakes. Many Japanese soups have a stock base called ‘dashi’, which is often made using dried bonito (fish) flakes and some kind of kelp. I found a few different variations on it, but decided to go with the version that only required the bonito flakes, because that was what I had on hand.
Bonito flakes are kind of neat, because they are very very fine flakes of fish that are salty and a little fishy, and when you sprinkle them on something warm and moist, they start to absorb the water and curl up in a bizarrely animated way. The first time I had them (knowingly), was as a topping for an eggplant appetizer. They were a little bit scary, because they looked alive. Not discouraged, I ate the eggplant and it was amazing. So I bought some, and used some in a similar eggplant dish… and forgot about them.
I was happy to be able to use them up in a yummy soup!
To simplify things in the recipe below, I don’t really refer to ‘dashi’… I just include the steps to make the stock as a part of the recipe. You may choose to use a premade dashi, if you like, instead of following the steps.
To top things off, I used up some of the tempura bits that came from the tempura challenge. They were really fun on top of the soup, and added something extra to it, but are really not necessary. The broth was really the star here, being really flavourful and acting as a perfect backdrop to the greens, the mushrooms and tofu. So good!
- soba noodles – 4 portions
- 3 1/4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped roughly
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 cup cubed tofu, firm or extra-firm
- some fun vegetables (such as thinly sliced carrot, bok choi, long beans, etc.)
- 1 – 2 cups vegetable stock (or water)
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp mirin
- 4-6 Shiitake mushrooms (I used dried)
- green onion
- tempura bits (optional)
- Nanami Togarashi (chili and spice blend – could also use a pinch of cayenne, optional)
- Cook soba noodles in boiling water for 3 – 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain immediately and submerge in cold water to stop cooking. Drain well and set aside.
- In a large pot, heat the water over medium heat. Just before it has come to a boil, add the bonito flakes. Let it come to a boil, then take it off of the heat. Let it cool for a while, then strain out the bonito. Set the stock aside in another bowl.
- In the large pot, heat the vegetable and sesame oil. Sauté the onion until soft. Add garlic.
- Add in vegetables that take a little longer to cook (like carrot, eggplant, etc.) and cook for a few minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables, and the tofu.
- Add the bonito stock (dashi), and 2 cups of vegetable stock. Bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked
- Add the soy sauce and mirin, and cook for another few minutes.
- In each bowl, add a portion of soba noodles, then top with the soup (vegetables first, then ladle in some broth). Top with some sliced green onion and some tempura bits (if you happen to have some lying around!), and a sprinkling of Nanami Togarashi.