The Most Delicious Soba Dish

Paleo readers avert your eyes!  The first half of this post is full of wheat and grains and pseudocereals.  GASP!!  But don't be dismayed... there is a little something in here for you as well.  I'll tell you when it is safe to look back at the screen.

This past week, a very dear friend of mine was in town visiting from Japan.  She was here for a wedding and I was delighted to hear that she had a little bit of free time and wanted to get together for lunch and catching up.  We used to work together during the crazy time of starting up a new assembly line for a major auto manufacturer and the last time I saw her was three years ago right before Matt and I got married.

We spent the afternoon sharing stories, reminiscing, catching up on life's happenings and of course, eating!  One of my favorite parts of visiting with international friends is the exchange of gifts... not because I am greedy, but because it usually involves some type of native eats.  On this most recent visit, my friend gifted me with two packages of Japanese green tea and a package of soba noodles.

Back in my marathon running, carbo loading, grain eating days, I lived in an area with supremely easy access to a Japanese community and nearly daily eats of delicious Japanese food.  I lived on zaru soba.  It was like a comfort food from some long lost childhood I only imagined I had.  I couldn't get enough.  So when my gal pal handed over the gorgeous little bag of soba, my eyes lit up knowing there would be a special meal in my future.

When our visit was over, we said our sayonaras and went our separate ways.  My way was directly home to my computer to find a recipe that would be above and beyond the zaru soba I was used to and something I could easily and eventually convert to a Paleo dish.  My taste buds have grown up since I last ate soba and I wanted something with more depth and complexity.

After much clicking and searching, I found a recipe for "Otsu" that originates from a restaurant in San Francisco called Pomelo.  I made a few adjustments to make sure everything BUT the soba was Paleo as I wanted to confirm the taste for future use without buckwheat noodles.  The original recipe that includes soba, tofu, and wheat-free soy sauce can be found at 101 Cookbooks.

Following are pictures of my attempt at this dish.  Beyond the pictures I have recreated the recipe for a more Paleo friendly audience.  Grain-free/sugar-free/dairy-free/soy-free eaters - you may all open your eyes now.  I'm looking forward to making the cool crunchy Paleo version to help get through these hot desert days of summer.

One big bowl of FRESH: cilantro, cucumber, and green onion

I was informed that after the noodles cook, they should be immediately washed in cold water.  Not just rinsed, but washed in order to remove the starch.  I just spent a little bit of time hand scrubbing small handfuls of the noodles under the cold water.

Cool.  Crisp.  Refreshing.  Fresh.  Zesty.  With a PUNCH!  The perfect summer dish.

In an effort to add a little more vegetable to the plate, I whipped up a quick carrot salad to accompany the soba.  Not only did I get to use my new mandoline for the cucumbers, but my awesome julienne peeler for the carrots.  Have I mentioned how much I love kitchen gadgets?  The final dish was bright and delicious with a perfect contrast of textures - soft smooth noodles and crunchy carrots.  These have both been added to my go-to list of favorite recipes.

PALEO "OTSU" - Modified from the Pomelo Otsu Recipe, as reprinted by 101 Cookbooks

Grated zest of 1 lemon
Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon local honey
1 teaspoon cayenne (reduce amount for less heat)
1 teaspoon salt
fresh squeezed juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup coconut aminos
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 lbs pastured, boneless chicken breasts, sliced for stir-fry
1 tablespoon coconut oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 head green cabbage, cored and shredded
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 green onions including whites, thinly sliced
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Make the dressing by combining the lemon zest, grated ginger, honey, cayenne, and salt in a food processor and process until smooth.  Add the lemon juice, rice vinegar, and coconut aminos.  Pulse to combine.  With the machine running, drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil and sesame oil.

In a skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat.  Salt and pepper the sliced chicken breast and brown in the skillet until cooked through.  Drain the skillet and set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cabbage, cilantro, green onions, English cucumber slices, and cooked chicken strips.  Pour the dressing over the contents of the bowl and toss until everything is well coated.  Serve sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.

Serves 4


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