When I want to prepare something quick but substantial, I always turn to Asian noodles. You can see me at Sobaya slurping my soba noodles most Sunday afternoons. Before Honmura An closed, it was the best place to watch a Japanese soba maker perform his art. But it was in Chicago where I first tasted a soba dish tossed like a salad with vegetables and mushrooms. Four years later, I can still remember how Anna made it for the Dr. and me.
In some small way, I wanted to bring back the old with the new by making this familiar recipe the first for this new Web address. For my take, I used carrots and sweet peas. They complemented the soba’s buckwheat color. Soba is one reason why dried mushrooms are great to have in your pantry. You can just soak them in warm water a few minutes before you need to use them. The nori, or dried seaweed, provided an extra crunch. You can make this dish your own by adding any of your favorite vegetables; just julienne them for a prettier presentation.
dried shiitake mushrooms
1 small carrot, peeled and julienned
a handful of sweet peas, roughly chopped
2 stalks of scallions, finely chopped
nori, or dried Japanese seaweed
sesame seeds, toasted
light soy sauce
1. If using dried mushrooms, soak shiitake in a bowl of warm water for thirty minutes. After soaking, drain shiitake mushrooms and squeeze out excess water using a paper towel. Slice in strips. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, mix equal parts sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar.
3. Cook soba noodles in boiling water for about 5 minutes. When done, drain and fluff with a fork to keep the noodles from sticking together.
4. Pour sesame sauce little by little over soba noodles. Toss with the mushrooms and the vegetables. Mix in sesame seeds and crushed nori. Top with chopped scallions.