Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Vegetable Yakisoba

Yakisoba is a traditional Japanese dish, a version of Lo Mein using Soba, a buckwheat noodle. This recipe is strictly vegetarian, without any protein. Partly this is because I've only ever had yakisoba as a side for takoyaki. Partly because any stir-fry recipe is really just a jumping off point for you to tweak it to your own taste. This is a very easy dish to make.

At my local supermarket I found two of the three toppings that yakisoba is enjoyed with: furikake (sesame and nori seasoning blend) and beni shoga (ginger pickled with shiso leaves), but I couldn't locate any bonito flakes (dried shaved fish). I had to go to Whole Foods for the Soba noodles. What is so special about yakisoba? For one, the noodles, which are buckwheat noodles, lend a pleasing nutiness to the dish and an enjoyably gritty snap to the noodles. The sauce, a sweet and savory mix of sweet rice wine (mirin) and soy sauce is a great compliment to both the bright, mellow veggies and grainy buckwheat noodles. This pairs well with just about any protein: tofu or pork should be julienned, chicken and steak cut into bite-sized pieces, shrimp left whole and sausage crumbled. In every case except for the tofu, saute the protein first, then set it aside until the sauce has been poured over the finished stir-fry; reintroduce.


1 lb soba noodles
1/3 head of cabbage, shredded
2 small carrots, julienned
2 stalks of celery, julienned
1/2 onion cut into 1/2" ribbons

For the sauce:

1 Tablespoons neutral oil (like peanut or vegetable)
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 Teaspoons sugar
3 Tablespoons rice wine (mirin)
1/2 + 3 dashes soy sauce
1/4 Teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 Teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup water
1 heaping teaspoon corn starch, sifted

1. In a large pot of water, boil soba noodles until al dente. Drain and place on ice.
2. in a hot wok, stir-fry veggies for 3 - 4 minutes, or until they are starting to become tender. Add up to 3 dashes soy sauce to season veggies.
3. While veggies are cooking, combine all sauce ingredients except for corn starch. Cook over low heat until sugar is melted, then slowly whisk cornstarch in.
4. Add noodles to stir fry and cook until just warmed through. Add sauce to stir fry.

Serve topped with a sprinkling of furikake (or just nori and sesame seeds as an alternative) and a pinch of pickled ginger.

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