Cold somen noodles done a little more properly

As a recent take on this was a little more free. Regardless, said noodles along with various other toppings and a dipping sauce, along with a good sake. Nice combination!

There are any number of cold somen noodle recipes online — a fun I came across, which links to a recent LA Times story as well, is courtesy of the Food Librarian. Needless to say any library employee in the LA area who is a cooking fiend is all right by me, so I salute you!

Somen noodles are easily cooked, rinsed and chilled, and so long as you have the basic dipping sauce around — somen tsuyu is how it’s labeled if you go the storebought route — the sky’s the limit in terms of what you want to include or try.


Tororo soba, fried rice and sake

So basically I wanted to wrap up a certain presidency well — ie, by looking positively towards the future and sending him off with a metaphorical flea in his ear — and as I’ve been mentioning here and there I wanted to work more with the vegetables and other produce at the local Japanese market more just to see what they’re all about. It’s a simple rule, really — if it’s being sold, then people want to buy it, presumably because they want to eat it.

The core of this soup is a Japanese tuber, yamaimo — equivalent to a yam, essentially, but very watery when prepared and chopped up. (‘Slimy’ is another word used but honestly I’ve dealt with worse.) So after some scrounging I found this handy blog, Anna’s Cool Finds, detailing her own encounter with said vegetable and what she did with it, giving me the idea of making tororo soba. You’ll find full details at her link but to briefly summarize:

* Peel the portion of yamaimo you’ve bought are working with and grate it as finely as possible — and *always* do both these steps while wearing rubber gloves, as yamaimo apparently causes really bad itching or other skin reactions.

* Mix with a serving of dashi (Japanese soup stock, like the European/American versions available in many varieties — Anna recommended iriko aka dried anchovy, but various vegetable varieties can be found as well) and some boiling water, then chill.

This concludes the basic making of the soup, but to make tororo soba one obviously needs soba noodles — cook up a batch, chill and then put on the soup. As you can see from Anna’s link, she topped the soup with the noodles where I mixed them; I’d guess her take is more traditional but hey. She also suggested the green onion garnish.

Meantime the fried rice is just that — made up a batch of rice the other day and mixed that with a big of egg, green onion and some spices, cooked in a small amount of peanut and chili oil.

The sake is Hananomai Junmai Ginjo — I gather it’s a well respected manufacturer, there’s a slew of positive reviews on the Net, while I liked this brief story about the current master brewer or toji, Kazuhito Tsuchida. My knowledge of sake’s subtleties is limited but this worked nicely with a gentle finish.

Good stuff, this. I like being back on a roll again with cooking ideas.