This was originally intended to be a proper post, with a recipe and errything.
But turns out I don’t remember what the hell I put in this dish. It’s clear there’s tofu, shiitake mushrooms, celery, and soba noodles. Kinda looks like cabbage too. Probably sesame oil and fish sauce. Other than that, I haven’t a clue, and I didn’t write it down because of course I didn’t.
I do remember that everything was mised before starting to cook, then each was quickly sautéed one item at a time (maybe in the wok, even), and dumped into a big ol’ bowl before getting tossed together.
It was quite good, for what it’s worth. Have fun reverse-engineering.
For a recent dinner: an ersatz pho, mostly following this recipe, using a boatload of shiitake, some soy-marinated tofu, spinach, and soba noodles on the bottom of the bowl. Avocado garnish because avocado is mandatory.
I used some broiler-charred onions to make the stock, which was a lovely touch.
For dinner last night: roasted Brussels sprouts, tossed with black and white sesame seeds, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sriracha. Served over soba noodles tossed with toasted sesame oil, topped with Maytag blue cheese and green onions. Cornbread on the side, because cornbread and Brussels sprouts are good friends.
Sesame oil and soba noodles has got to be one of the best flavor combinations of all time. The smell is just intoxicating. I could eat it every day.
The sprouts were roasted according to a method in a recent Cook’s Illustrated: toss with oil, salt, pepper, and 1 T water. Roast in a sheet pan cut-side down and covered with foil at 500° F for 10 minutes, uncover and roast another 10 minutes or so. They steam gently, and the texture and browning are perfect. It’s my new go-to for Brussels sprouts.
I have a problem when it comes to following recipes. Unless it’s a baked good, I appear to be almost entirely incapable of following those carefully-written instructions.
Sometimes, it works quite well. I tweak an ingredient (or four), and all is well in the end.
But sometimes, my ego gets the best of me, and I decide that I know far better than some chef who wrote some cookbookthat I’ve only been cooking out of all summer with rave results and who I should trust implicitly. I read a recipe, and I say, “Well, that can’t be right. I’ll just make some adjustments.”
And then, I end up with a huge pan full of gorgeous tofu and broccoli and soba that is smothered with a sauce that has the consistency of gritty, sandy dirt. Actually, I think the dirt might’ve had a better texture.
Oh, and the house filled up with smoke, let’s not forget the house full of smoke. So much smoke.
It took me all flippin’ night to cook it, too. That’s the worst part, so much work for next to no payoff.
The intention was, of course, to post a recipe, but I don’t recommend anyone actually follow the recipe I ended up with. I’m saving you much heartache. It was not spicy enough, far too laborious, and lacked some sort of oomph. Not to mention the rather, um, abrasive texture.
One major adjustment was made to mimic a dish I devoured recently, one that was redolent with the brilliant numbing tingle of Sichuan pepper. I wanted to showcase the Sichuan peppercorns I ecstatically bought in response, and have been unsure of how to use ever since.
But apparently, the seeds must be painstakingly culled from the husks, as they have a (drum roll please) very gritty texture. If anyone has helpful tips on how to use the things, I’m all ears. Please.
Yes, I ate it, mostly out of spite. No one else really did.
So, lessons learned: Do not fry loads of tofu in a small apartment. If you think it’ll be too much food, you’re probably right. Research unfamiliar ingredients. Trust the author.
If you have to utter the phrase, “Guys, this might actually be inedible,” just give up and order takeout.
Leftovers for lunch: soba noodles obscured in an ocean of hijiki (seaweed), radishes, red bell pepper, red jalapeño, mint, cilantro, parsley, lime, sesame seeds, and sesame oil. I made it for a client last week, sans seaweed, and got so hungry for it that I came home and made it again for myself. Recipe is (adapted) from my latest obsession, Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty.
Soba and sesame oil together are one of the world’s most amazing flavor pairings. It’s almost better than tomato and basil.
Yes, I may have made the same recipe recently. This is how I cook: rarely the same dish twice, even from the same recipe. It makes me smile.
For dinner earlier this week: soba noodles, in the manner of Yotam Ottolenghi from his newest cookbook, Plenty, which is changing my life over here. Included are wakame (the seaweed), sesame, red chilies, tiny French breakfast radishes, and tons of farmers market herbs, such as something called “crinkle cress”, a miniscule cress that tastes of wasabi. Amazing stuff.