It’s that time of year when the combination of busy holiday preparations, end-of-year work deadlines and dark, sad weather conspire to take away the inspiration to cook. But rather than throwing in the kitchen towel, why not whip up a satisfying but ready-in-a-flash dish? Noodle dishes fit the bill well. One favorite noodle dish features whole grain [buckwheat] soba and the intense fermented flavor of kimchi. This isn’t even really cooking, just assembling. Sometimes that’s all you have energy for, and thankfully, it’s fantastic.
Soba reminds me of a trip we took to Tokyo a few summers back, when I first learned to eat soba the correct way (with the soba cooking liquid as a delicate broth served on the side). I had a fantastic meal and was schooled in soba at Narutomi Soba (8-18-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-5565-0055. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm and 6-8:45pm, Sat 11:30am-3pm, closed Sun, hols & every third Sat. Nearest stn: Shimbashi or Higashi-Ginza. ), a tiny gem of a place I found through the excellent and essential foodlover’s guide to Tokyo, Food Sake Tokyo, by Yukari Sakamoto.
UPDATE AUGUST 2015– NARUTOMI IS NOW A MEMBERS-ONLY RESTAURANT, NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Chef and me.
That wonderful meal was the capstone to an enchanted day we spent strolling the streets of Kappabashi, which is a neighborhood dedicated to selling cookware and restaurant supplies.
View of Sky Tower.
A taiyaki (fish-shaped waffle) press.
This is also the place to buy those realistic replicas of Japanese food that you see in the windows of Japanese restaurants around the world. In this case, sometimes larger than life-size !
Yukari Sakamoto leads tours around Kappabashi and elsewhere in Tokyo. She was sadly unavailable when we visited, but I will definitely look her up on my next trip.
Hope you enjoyed coming along with me on this trip down memory lane in Tokyo. Now that your appetite is whetted, the recipe. Kimchi is Korean, not Japanese, of course, but the flavors marry well with the soba. If you’re interested in nutrition, this dish is whole-grain, gluten-free, vegan and contains lots of probiotics in the kimchi. Enjoy!
1/2 pound dried somen or udon (Japanese wheat noodles)
1 1/2 cups kimchi, chopped
1 tablespoon kimchi juice from the jar, or more to taste
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
Salt, optional and to taste
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Bring a pot of water to boil and boil the noodles according to package directions, 7 minutes in my case. Drain the cooked noodles and run under cold water until cool.
In the meantime, chop the kimchi and combine it in a bowl with the sugar, vinegar, and kimchi juice. Add the cooked noodles and the sesame oil, and toss to combine.
Season to taste with salt (kimchi is already quite salty) and top with scallions.
Nutrition facts per serving: Calories: 192, Total Fat: 6g, SodiumL 530 mg, Carbohydrate: 30g, Fiber: 2g.