More often than not, there are at least a couple nights out of the week that Nick isn’t around in the evening. I suppose there are some people that would be unhappy if their spouse wasn’t around for dinner. Personally, I love it. Besides giving us a greater appreciation for the nights we do have together, it gives me a chance to catch up on schoolwork that I should have done earlier in the day, watch television and movies I know he would hate, and cook things that he would be less than excited about eating: pasta and tomato sauce with canned tuna; anything with chickpeas; and now, soba noodles.
I have to give credit to my friend Katie for bringing my attention to this Smitten Kitchen recipe. One day during the last leg of the semester, I was discussing (okay, complaining) about being too tired to do serious cooking, but really, really needing to eat some vegetables, and Katie mentioned that she had just cooked an incredibly quick and easy recipe for soba noodles with edamame and shiitakes. She had me at shiitake.
Even though I’ve made this at least three times, I have yet to follow the recipe directly. One time, the grocery store did not have shelled edamame. One time, just as I was preparing dinner, I realized I had to skip the ginger, as mine had turned… squishy.* Most recently the grocery store was out of Napa cabbage, so baby bok choy served as a stand in. Given the giant bunch of chives growing outside, it seems silly to buy scallions. Oh, and no sesame seeds, ever. Unless they’re on a bagel or a sushi roll. But that’s just a personal preference.
Also, I haven’t been able to locate Korean hot-pepper paste (although I haven’t looked too hard), so I’ve been using Thai roasted red chili paste. It’s worked just fine, as far as I’m concerned.
Soba Noodles with Shiitakes and Cabbage (adapted from Smitten Kitchen, and originally Gourmet magazine; Serves 4)
Make the sauce:
Whisk together 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 2 to 3 teaspoons Korean hot-pepper paste, and 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar until sugar is dissolved.
Make the veggies and noodles:
Finely chop 2 tablespoons peeled ginger and 1 tablespoon garlic. Stem and thinly slice 10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms; thinly slice 1 1/4 pounds Napa cabbage or bok choy (should yield about 8 cups- don’t skimp- it shrinks down a lot!); and thinly slice 6 scallions (or twice as many chives, if that’s what you have handy).
In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil.
While you’re waiting for the water to boil, cook the veggies. Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. (The original recipe specifies to use a non-nonstick skillet. Our biggest skillet is, unfortunately, nonstick. It works fine, but I can imagine stainless would be better.) Saute ginger and garlic, stirring, until fragrant, just about 30 seconds. Add shiitakes and saute, stirring frequently, until tender and starting to brown, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and then add cabbage and most of the scallions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp tender, about 6 minutes. Add sauce and simmer 2 minutes.
Hopefully your water is boiling by the time you get to cooking the cabbage. Add 8 to 9 ounces of soba noodles and 1 cup frozen, shelled edamame to the boiling water. Cook until noodles are just tender, about 6 minutes. Drain, rinse under cool water (to remove excess starch and stop further cooking), and drain again. Toss noodles and edamame with veggie mixture. Serve with additional scallions sprinkled on top for garnish.
*I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever been tempted to insert an emoticon into a blog post. In case you’re curious, it would have been :-p Yes, with an italicized p as an attempt to blend together :-p and