As we make our way back to Charlottesville for the start of the new semester, we all brace ourselves for the scorching summer heat which consistently seems to make its presence known on Grounds at the beginning of each school year. Although some may dread this hot summer weather, I may have just the recipe to keep us all from melting this upcoming semester.
A meal that I have kept coming back to this summer is soba noodles, which are traditionally prepared ice cold — perfect for a refreshing meal. Soba noodles take on their distinct grayish-brown color from buckwheat flour, which was first domesticated in China and was brought over to Japan all the way back in the Jomon period, which was around 10,000 to 300 B.C. Noodles made of buckwheat are said to be a healthier alternative to other types of noodles because they have fewer calories and are nutrient-rich with vitamin B, fibers and various minerals.
The soba noodle dish became popular in the Edo period — 1603 to 1867 — and was served in traveling soba noodle soup vendors and portable stalls in Japan, which were known to stay open after other food businesses had closed and satisfied late-night cravings. It became so sought after that it was even delivered to merchant and samurai homes upon request. While it was and still is a very popular dish, it is also, luckily, a very simple dish to make!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 1 serving
- 1 bundle of soba noodles (3.2 ounces)
- 1 egg
- A pinch of sesame seeds
- 1 chopped green onion
- 1 cucumber
- 1 1/2 cups (355ml) dashi
- 1/2 cup (118ml) light soy sauce
- 1/2 cup (118ml) mirin
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- Bring two pots of water to a boil.
- Boil one pot of water filled enough for an egg to be submerged fully.
- Bring three cups of water in another pot to a boil for your noodles.
- Once the water in one pot has reached a boiling point, put in your bundle of noodles.
- When the water in the other pot has reached a boil, gently place your egg in.
- Cook noodles for around seven to eight minutes depending on how hard or soft you would like your noodles to be. I cook closer to seven minutes because I like the texture of my noodles to be al dente. You can occasionally taste test a noodle to check the firmness.
- Let your egg boil anywhere from four to eight minutes depending on how runny you would like your yolk to be.
- While you let your egg and noodles boil, prepare one small bowl and one medium-sized bowl of ice water for your egg and noodles, respectively.
- Immediately after boiling your noodles, place them into the bowl of ice water and leave until they are no longer hot and they are now ice cold to the touch.
- Immediately after boiling your egg, place it in the other bowl of ice water so that the egg stops cooking.
- Chop half a cucumber — or however much you would like to add to your dish — into thin strips.
- Chop your green onion into approximately two centimeter thick pieces.
- Pat your noodles dry using a paper towel.
- Next, place your noodles onto a plate, cut your egg in half and place the egg on top of the noodles.
- Place your chopped cucumber onto the plate of noodles.
- Sprinkle on your onion and your sesame seeds to taste.
- In a smaller sauce bowl, mix your soy sauce, mirin, sugar and dashi together in order to create the perfect dipping sauce.
- Take some noodles, dip it into your savory sauce and slurp up the deliciously refreshing soba noodles.
After your noodles are perfectly garnished with your finely sliced cucumber, golden yolked eggs and toasted sesame seeds, you are ready to enjoy your savory yet refreshing soba noodles! This low effort yet delicious meal is sure to be an added staple to your recipe list as we transition from summer to fall.