Sunday, November 30, 2008

Narita Soba Noodle Soup

This morning as the snow was falling, I remembered a noodle shop in Narita, Japan. A few of us would go every trip. Once we landed, after a 14 hour flight, we would rush to the hotel bus to take a ride to the center of Narita. We would walk down Green Street, turn right onto a small side street and enter the best noodle shop around. On a winter night, the shop would be hot and steamy, filled with the aroma of fresh noodles, broth, and conversation in every language. The proprietor knew us and would bring large cold bottles of Japanese beer to the table and we would order our favorite soups. Favorites were the Beef Chili Pepper and the Fish and Soba Noodles. Served with large red spoons, you would help yourself to the disposable chop sticks in the center of the table and use the facial tissues which served as napkins. After we'd eaten, we would leisurely walk back to the bus stop, tired, sleepy and full of hot satisfying soup. Teriyaki Salmon Soba Soup

4 pieces salmon filet, about 5 ounces each
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, roasted
4 bunches baby bok choy, washed and trimmed, leaving root end attached
4 handfuls fresh baby spinach, washed
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1-1 inch piece ginger, minced
1 teaspoon canola oil

Dashi Broth
4 bunches soba noodles

Teriyaki Sauce

7 teaspoons dark soy sauce
7 teaspoons sake
7 teaspoons mirin
1 teaspoon sugar

Combine the soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar in a small bowl. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Add the salmon and coat gently. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Dashi Broth

1 quarts cold water
1 large piece of kombu, seaweed, wiped clean with a damp cloth
1 -1.5 ounce bag bonita flakes
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin
salt to taste
sugar to taste

Fill the stock pot with the cold water and drop the kombu in it. Heat the water slowly so that it takes at least 10 minutes to begin to boil.
When the water starts to bubble before it comes to a full boil, remove the kombu. If you leave it in the water, it begins to smell.
Add the bonita flakes and return to the heat. Allow the stock to come to a full boil, then remove it from the heat at once.
If the bonita is allowed to boil for more than a couple of seconds it will make the dashi bitter. Strain the flakes through a fine sieve or a paper filter. Return the broth to the pot, add the mirin and sake. Taste for seasoning. If needed, add a little salt or sugar.

The Garnish

In a small saute pan, add the oil and heat until smoking. Add the ginger and shallots, saute until lightly colored. Remove and set aside.
Add 2 quarts of water to a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and drop in the bok choy. Blanch for 2 minutes, remove with a spider basket and rinse in cold water. Set aside.
Add the soba noodles and cook as directed. Drain and rinse with water.

Place the salmon in a parchment lined roasting pan. Sprinkle with the roasted sesame seeds and place under the broiler. I like to remove mine while the salmon is still dark pink in the center. To check for doneness, you can flake the salmon with a fork.
To assemble: Place noodles in the bottom of a large noodle bowl. Place a bunch of bok choy on on side of the noodle mixture. Lay the salmon filet in the center. On the other side place a handful of spinach. Gently pour the hot dashi broth over the top. Garnish with Scallion and sauteed ginger and shallot. Kombu and bonita Flakes can be found in Whole Foods or most Asian markets. Some cooks feel it's optional, but I like the authentic Japanese flavor. All pictures and recipes are the property of The Gypsy Chef unless otherwise credited.