Several months ago, a friend and I attended a cooking class at a local co-op, which is a favorite food shop of mine. A personal chef was teaching how to prepare nutritionally rich and delicious dishes with minimal ingredients. One of the first items she brought forth was soba noodles - and, embarrassingly, I do not believe I had ever been introduced to this type of Japanese noodle before, which is made from buckwheat flour. I was impressed with how quickly they are prepared and by their versatility. While the class was more of a watch and learn session, we were able to sample the dishes she had created. The soba noodles were a welcome break from regular pasta noodles. They had a mild flavor and neutral element that allowed strong flavors in the sauces to come through, without mellowing the taste with a starchy quality like some pastas.
Soba is higher in amino acids, such as thiamine and lysine, and antioxidants, like rutin which prevents high blood pressure, than white rice and pastas. Soba can be served hot or cold, plain with a dipping sauce or as part of a meal or soup. It usually is bought in a package with three bundles, which I like to cook separately so the serving sizes are equal.
This meal was savory and delicious, with great nutritional value. The sauce and glaze compliment each other's citrus elements and are important for the soba and tofu which are naturally mild. It cooks quickly for a meal on a busy day or an unexpected visit from friends.
Soba Noodles & Orange Sauce
4 bundles soba noodles
1 tbsp ginger, freshly grated
2/3 cup chicken broth
3 tbsp orange marmalade
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the bundles individually to retain equal portion sizes for 5 min each. Drain and rinse with cool water. Plate each bundle after cooking.
In a small saucepan, sauté ginger for 1 min on medium-high heat. Stir in chicken broth, marmalade, and soy sauce; bring to a low boil and cook until mixture is slightly thick. Add lemon juice just before plating. Pour 2 tbsp over each serving of soba noodles.
~Adapted from Cooking Light.
1 package firm tofu, drained
3 tbsp brown rice vinegar
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp grated orange rind
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
2 tbsp green onions, thinly sliced diagonally
Cut the tofu square in half horizontally, then cut each square into triangles, making four servings. Place the slices between paper towels, press down to remove access water, and allow them to rest for 15 min.
Combine the ingredients of brown rice vinegar through the orange rind in a small saucepan and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 6 min or longer depending on the desired thickness of the glaze.
Heat toasted sesame oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook 5 min each side or until they are golden brown (if desired, use tongs to hold the tofu and cook the edges as well for 1 min). Once the tofu is finished cooking, remove from the pan, then add the sesame seeds and toast for 30 - 60 seconds. Remove and set aside for garnish.
Arrange tofu slices on soba noodles and top with soy sauce glaze, toasted sesame seeds, and sliced green onions.
~Yields 4 servings.
~Adapted from Cooking Light.