Thursday, September 13, 2007

Soba's what for dinner!

When you spend a lot of time reading the delicious food blogs out, many things can happen to you. Do you know that by simply staring at the food on the computer screen can make one gain weights? Ok, this may not sound scientific, and I don't have any concrete research work done on this yet. But that is certainly the case for me. Sadly, as of the last time I weighed, I have gained some more pounds from looking at food that I didn't eat! I am serious. Really.

Soba with tofu, shiitake mushroom and red pepperAnother thing, that may or may not happen to you, is an impulsive change of menu for dinner. Yes, this happens a lot of time around here... You know, the menu I planned sounds great, and the necessary ingredient has been taken out to thaw. But thing changes in a matter of one click. Like the time when I see the entry about soba here and here.

"Isn't it great?" I told myself. "I have soba in the pantry which I bought for a recipe I read somewhere. But couldn't find it anymore after soba comes on board." A change of menu is inevitable, lest I forget where I see the recipe again. So much on food blogs overloaded.

Speaking of soba, I wish I could tell you more than it's noodle made of buckwheat flour and I have seen it made fresh from the Japanese restaurant display window. Other than that, I know very little about soba. If you are interested to know more, check out here.If you are only interested in eating (like me), skip the link, and drag the cursor down because I want to tell you about my first soba experience.

You know how sometime you have never tasted a new thing and don't know what to expect? That was my case with soba. Would it taste like the Italian's spaghetti or Asian's instant noodle? The answer is none of the above. In fact, I tasted a mild nutty flavor in Soba. Since I have not tasted anything made with buckwheat before, I wouldn't know if that's the typical "buckwheat taste".

Anyhow, I sort of incorporated these two recipes into one, because I don't have some of the ingredients in the respective recipes.ha! The thing with cooking (at least Asian's cooking) is, it is very forgiving. You can safely incorportate more of certain condiments to suit your taste, or leave it altogether.(With some exceptions of course, but that's not the case here, at least)

While I am sure both recipes taste marvellous, I am happy to report that my modified version was pretty good too. With an auspicious beginning with soba, I have since optimistically bought a few more packs of soba (with different brands)from my local Asian's grocery store. They are now sitting neatly with their Italian and Chinese counterparts!

Does any food blog make you try something new lately?

Soba with tofu, shiitake mushroom and red pepper

Spicy Soba Noodles with Tofu, Shiitake mushroom and Red Pepper

Makes 4 servings

For sauce
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons Korean hot-pepper paste (sometimes labeled “gochujang”)
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

For noodles
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
10 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in water to soften, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 block (12oz) of firm tofu, cubed.
6 scallions, thinly sliced
8 to 9 ounces soba
1 red pepper, cored and thinly sliced

Stir together all sauce ingredients until brown sugar is dissolved, then set aside.

Toast sesame seeds in a dry 12-inch heavy skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat, stirring, until pale golden, then transfer to a small bowl.

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers,add tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until all sides are browned. Remove from skillet. In the same skillet,sauté ginger and garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add shiitakes and red bell pepper and sauté, stirring frequently, until tender, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium,return tofu to the skillet and add most of scallions (reserve about a tablespoon for garnish. Add sauce and simmer 2 minutes.

While the tofu mixture is cooking, cook soba in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until noodles are just tender, about 6 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cool water to stop cooking and remove excess starch, then drain well again. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with sesame seeds and tofu mixture. Serve sprinkled with reserved scallions.

If you aren’t able to find Korean hot-pepper paste, substitute 3/4 teaspoon Chinese chile paste and reduce the amount of soy sauce to 1/4 cup.


Anh said...

Beautiful and healthy recipe!!!

Belinda said...

I am in total 100% agreement with you that merely viewing food blogs can cause weight gain...yikes! This looks so yummy...I have never eaten tofu, but I can be bad and use chicken instead, right?! :-)

WokandSpoon said...

I definitely agree as well - food blogs definitely make you gain weight! they give me cravings! hehe! And right now, I have a soba craving from looking at your photos! Mmmmmmmm

tigerfish said...

Now I know where my extra pounds are coming from :O

You know, I can't say more for soba. I didn't really like soba few years ago (perhaps coz it's 99% served cold in Jap restaurants in S'pore). But when I did my own warm version, I love it so much. Even before my first pack of soba was finished up, I've already bought a second pack to keep in my pantry.
Your combination with gojuchang sounds perfect!

Hey, I saw your lychee cake just won the DMBLGIT for edibility! Congrats! :D

Aimée said...

What better places to seek inspiration that food blogs, for the recipes are tried and true by real cooks and we know they are going to be great!
This one looks like a I wonder if my 2-yr-old would eat soba...

veron said...

I really could eat some soba right now. I love tofu too! And your dish look so scrumptious...hopefully staring at it won't make me gain weight. Now does that work the other way? If you look at healthy food would it make you lose weight?

Mandy said...


absolutely! You can certainly substitute chicken for tofu.

haha. I get cravings from looking at others blogs all the time!

thanks! You are the one that made me craved and started eating soba!

Soba tastes like whole wheat pasta. If your 2-yr old eat that, then soba shouldn't be a problem ;)

that's a good one. Now I need to experiment with that and see if I would lose weights looking at healthy stuff.;p

Happy Homebaker said...

Mandy, my friend once told me, just thinking about food will also make one fat!!!
I just bought a pack of soba, and the only way I know how to cook it is to make cold soba! Now I know there are other ways to cook soba! Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

Karen Hu said...

Mandy, I just discovered your blog on Friday and I love it!

I haven't done much cooking over the past few years due to health problems and recently realized that eating a lot of prepared food is only making the problems worse!

So I decided that no matter how I feel I am going to make the effort to cook healthier and tastier meals.

I made this tofu/soba dish tonight and we loved it!!!!!!!! Actually, I fixed the veggies and sauce this morning when I had more energy...great strategy for me.

I forgot to get ginger, and living out in the boonies as I do, did not have the hot paste so I substituted ground red pepper. I also used Bragg's instead of soy sauce and it was wonderful.

Thanks so much for sharing your culinary creations!

All the best,

karlsfoodie said...

use ur recipe as a guide.. i managed to whip up a yummy dish.. thanx heaps

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