Sesame Buckwheat Noodles— warm or cold, always exquisite and substantial

After a particularly stressful day at work I felt that Neri deserved a big bowl of noodles. Neri loves noodles and could eat them every day of the week if I would let him. Italian dishes dominated our plates earlier in the week and I needed to switch things up.  We still had oyster mushrooms, baby bok choy and red Chinese long beans in the refrigerator from a Farmers’ Market earlier in the week. Time to be creative to avoid wasting any food.

Chinese or Japanese for dinner, I couldn’t decide, so I went with my favorite fusion dish…Sesame Buckwheat Noodles.

I often combine my love of Japanese and Chinese cooking into this one dish that can have endless variations depending on what is in season and currently in my pantry. The basics ingredients that never change are the soba noodles, sesame paste , shichimi togarashi and/or gomasio, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar and either vinegar, mirin or lemon juice–depending on my mood.

Several regions in China have variations of sesame noodle dishes, often made with a wheat noodles such as Dan Dan Mien or Ji Mah Mien.  In Japan, soba or buckwheat noodles are eaten hot or cold served with a broth-like soya (sauce) for dipping and often topped with goma or sesame seeds. Thicker sesame sauces are also used in Japanese cooking for topping vegetables or casserole dishes. My dish is a combination of aspects from both traditions that is easy to make at home and great in hot or cold weather.

NERI’S FAVORITE SESAME NOODLES

Serves 4-6

  • 3 or 4 servings of soba noodles—1 small package or 3 or 4 bundles from a large package
  • 2 to 3 cups of Red Chinese Long Beans cut into 2 in pieces
  • 5 scallions diced
  • 2 T of sesame paste (tahini raw or toasted)
  • 1 T of almond or peanut butter
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 T mirin
  • 1 T sugar or honey
  • 2 tsp grated or finely chopped young ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 T to 3 T of finely chopped shiso or lemon-basil
  • 1 T to 2 T shichimi togarashi -also known as Seven Spice Pepper
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1/4c 1/3 c of pasta water

Optional Toppings:  sauteed oyster mushrooms, sauteed bok choy, pressed-flavored tofu), green onions, grated daikon, sesame seeds, gomasio or pickled vegetables.

  1. Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil noodles and parboil red beans.
  2. Rinse and cut vegetables–beans, ginger, garlic, herbs, green onions.
  3. In a large glass bowl add sesame paste, almond butter, soy, mirin, sugar, ginger, garlic and sesame oil.
  4. When water begins to boil, add red beans and gently cook for 5 minutes. Test for tenderness at 3 minutes and cook until fork tender.
  5. Strain beans from water and rinse with cold water. Don’t dump out the water.
  6. Place soba noodles in the boiling water and cook following suggested cooking time on package–time varies depending on buckwheat/wheat ratio and whether they or dry or fresh.
  7. Take 1/4 c of hot water from the pot and whisk with sauce ingredients in your glass bowl.
  8. If sauce is too thick, slowly whisk in more hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time. It should be slightly thinner than honey. Add shichimi togarashi and taste mixture and add additional amounts of ingredients to suit personal preference for sweet, salty and spicy.
  9. Add beans to the sauce, toss gently.  Add herbs and scallions to the mixture.
  10. When the noodles are ready, strain and rinse slightly with cool water.
  11. Toss noodles into bean mixture and sprinkle on additional shichimi togarashi, goma or other toppings.
  12. Serve warm as a one dish meal or with suggested optional toppings.

Great the next day as a cold noodle dish. Allow to sit at room temperature 15 minutes after removing from the refrigerator.

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