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NOODLES - "MENRUI"
BACK TO FOOD | FOX NOODLES | ZARU SOBA
Rice of course is the staple food of Japan, but the second most popular food would have to be menrui (noodles). Noodles are eaten the day round in Japan and are served in many different ways, both hot and cold. There are all kinds of noodles, but the two most popular are soba (buckwheat) and udon (white flour).
NOODLES!
Soba noodles are thin, flavorful, and generally light brown in color. They come in various sizes and colors, there's even a type made with powdered green tea called cha-soba. During the summer months soba is served cold in shallow bamboo baskets, and the noodles are dipped into a cold dipping sauce. In winter the noodles make their appearance in hot dashi, and are accompanied by ingredients like fried tofu, vegetables and meats. Udon is a very thick and pasty wheat noodle that is served in hot dashi and topped with the same condiments as the soba noodles. Here are two of my favorite noodle dishes... the first is meant for the winter months, the second for summer.

Kitsune means "fox" and this dish is named for the light brown color of the abura-age (deep fried tofu). Kitsune udon consists of noodles served in hot shoyu flavored dashi. You can buy abura-age at an Asian food market, otherwise you can learn how to cook it here.

There are many variants to this recipe, instead of the deep fried tofu try placing a piece of shrimp tenpura on top, or try topping with a raw egg... called tsukimi or "moon viewing" noodles since the raw egg looks like the moon).

INGREDIENTS
4 pieces of abura-age (deep fried tofu),
cut into large triangles
1 package of dried udon or soba noodles
(about 3/4 lb.)
4 green onions (finely slivered)

BROTH
6 1/2 cups of dashi (see basics for
preparation method)
3 tablespoons of shoyu
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of sake

Heat the broth ingredients in a small pot, and in a separate sauce pan simmer the tofu in a cup of hot dashi. Meanwhile cook the dried noodles (see the basics section on cooking noodles), then rinse them in a colander using hot water, drain, and then transfer to serving bowls. Place the tofu on top, pour the hot broth over the noodles and garnish with the green onions.
This version of soba noodles is as simple as it gets. Served at room temperature or chilled, this is the perfect meal for a hot summer. The noodles are topped with crumbled nori, cubed tofu, green onions, and wasabi.

1 ten once package of dried soba noodles

DIPPING SAUCE
1 1/4 cups of dashi (see basics for preparation method)
1/2 cup of shoyu
1/4 cup mirin
1 teaspoon sugar

CONDIMENTS
1 sheet nori seaweed (lightly toasted over the stove top flame
and then crumbled)
1/2 block of chilled tofu cut into small one inch cubes
4 tablespoons of finely diced green onions
1 tablespoon of wasabi paste

Ahead of time, mix and heat the dipping sauce ingredients in a small saucepan, remove and let cool (you can chill this if you like). Cook the dried soba noodles (see the basics section on cooking noodles), then rinse them well in a colander using cold water, drain, then place in ice water, drain again. Serve the soba on a woven bamboo tray (zaru) meant for noodles or in small lacquer bowls. Place the cubed tofu on top, and garnish with the green onions, crumbled nori, and wasabi. Using hashi (chopsticks), dip the noodles into the cold dipping sauce.
This site is owned & operated by The Black Moon All rights reserved. Illustrations and text by Mark Vallen.
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