Takashi's Noodles

Cookbooks on Trial: Back with a Vengeance! I know that I haven't been posting every day lately but I've just been swamped--swamped and reeeeally tired. I think I might go back to posting M/W/F so I can focus more on each post. I might post more often than that but telling myself I only need to post on M/W/F makes me feel less stressed. Anyway, I actually got my crap together this week and cooked a new recipe!

I don't think I necessarily picked the best recipe out of Takashi's Noodles to try, though. My basic thought process was something along the lines of "It's so hot today, cold soba noodles would be really good for dinner. But wait!--I have to do something for Cookbooks on Trial today..." So I made the cold soba recipe from Takashi's Noodles.

The recipe was more labor intensive than the way I normally make cold soba (i.e. using store-bought concentrated dipping sauce). The homemade dipping sauce tasted a little off but I'm not even sure if I used the right type of kelp for the stock so all bets were off. Overall, it was pretty tasty though.

Left to right: what I hoped was kombu and bonito flakes.

Cold Soba from Takashi's Noodles

14 oz. dried soba noodles

To prepare the borth, ready an ice bath and set aside. Combine the dashi, soy sauce, and mirin in a stockpot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to a simmer and add the katsuobushi. Simmer for 2 minutes, then turn of the heat and let sit for 3 minutes. Strain througha fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and place the bowl in the ice bath to cool

Once the broth has cooled, place a pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the soba noodles, stirring to prevent them from sticking together. Cook for 4 or 5 minutes, or until the noodles are al dente. Drain into a colander and rinse under cold running water. Wash the noodles with your hands until the water runs clear and the noodles are cold to the touch.

To prepare the garnishes, set up garnish plates by arranging the nori, yuzu peel, scallions an d wasabi in small bunches on each of 4 small plates. Pour the broth into 4 teacups or small dipping bowls. Divide the noodles among 4 large plates. Each person will have a garnish plate, dipping bowl, and cold soba plate.

To eat, top the noodles with the shredding nori and add the yuzu peel, scallions, and wasabi to taste to the broth. Grab some noddles with chopsticks and dip them into the broth to coat the noddles then quickly slurp them down.

Dashi (Makes 2 quarts)
Place kombu and water in a large stockpot and let it soak at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the kombu and decrease the heat so the liquid is simmering. Add the katsuobushi and gently mix into the liquid--don't stir vigorously. Simmer for 10 minutes longer, then strain through a fine mesh sieve.

Garnishes, dipping sauce, and soba noodles.

The Verdict
4 (out of 5 stars). If you are serious about learning how to make and cook Japanese noodles this is a wonderful book written by a master of the field. Takashi Yagihashi is a highly respected Japanese chef and the book is blurbed by fellow luminaries like Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud, and Susur Lee. For the most part the recipes are pretty straightforward but they do demand commitment to such things as making your own dashi and other stocks. Some details are omitted (as in a recipe calling for 4 oz of beef but not specifying the cut) which might cause confusion for beginners like me. Nutritional info is also omitted.

It's a gorgeous book with lush photographs and is fun to look through and read. It covers all sorts of Japanese noodles: ramen, soba, udon, somen, plus some fusion dishes. It is for the serious noodle fan. To me it's more of an aspirational book rather than something that will help you put dinner on the table on a weeknight.

But sometimes it's nice just to flip through a cookbook and dream.

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