Is there a food more beloved than noodles? From spaghetti to egg and udon to chow mein, they are an integral part of the world’s favourite dishes. They’re an unstoppable force overcoming any gluten- or carb-free dieter’s no-no list—be it a blend of gluten-free grains or finely sliced veggies. They’re as welcome on the table of any Michelin star restaurant as they are doused in some cheap tomato sauce straight out of the pot in a university dorm.
Laurel Waterman, a professional writing lecturer (this semester of the food and writing course), has shared her own noodle recipe with me. Her noodle of choice? Soba.
“This is my healthy substitute when I crave the comfort of Kraft Dinner. Only a few ingredients are stalwarts. You can add, subtract, and substitute otherwise,” says Waterman. For example, she suggests a sprinkling of seaweed strips and pickled ginger as a garnish for any sushi-lover.
And it’s a recipe that pleases time and time again—no matter what the dietary requirements. At the moment for Waterman and her family, it’s the way the recipe originated: meatless.
“I invented this dish when I was vegan. It’s still a weekly staple in my house, even with my meat-loving husband and fickle kids. Try it on a meat-free Monday and give your body, farm animals, and the planet a break,” she says.
But she goes on to explain that if the tahini doesn’t provide enough protein, you can sauté it in sesame oil before adding the garlic. She recommends firm tofu, chickpeas, or tempeh.
Whatever variation you take, the final consideration when digging into a big bowl of noodles—and this goes for any noodle recipe, really—is the weapon of attack. For her recipe Waterman opts for chopsticks, but says that “forks give it a more mac ’n’ cheesy feel”.
But what about the classic fork and spoon twirl? Or for those who lack of clean cutlery, how about the ultimate challenge of just a spoon? Or if you just can’t wait to get into those delicious noodles, throw all table manners to the wind, firmly place a hand on either side of the bowl, and slurp. Why let anything get in between you and the world’s most trusted starch?
Soba Noodle Surprise
MAKES 2–4 SERVINGS
- 1 kg 100% buckwheat or wheat blend soba or rice noodles
- 5 bunches baby bok choy, spinach, kale, or swiss chard, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 heaping tbsp tahini
- 2 glugs maple syrup
- 1 tbsp Braggs or soya sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- juice of ½ lemon
- Sriracha hot sauce, to taste (optional)
- handful of sesame seeds, to garnish
- Prep greens and garlic and set a large pot of water to boil. Boil soba noodles for 5 minutes, following the instructions on the package. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
- Heat oil in a wok or frying pan. If using sesame oil or another nut oil, heat at medium-high. If using olive oil, heat at medium.
- Toss in garlic. Simmer for 2 minutes or until the first hint of brown appears, then add greens. Stir and reduce heat to medium-low. Keep stirring so the garlic doesn’t burn.
- In a measuring cup, small mason jar, or glass, mix the tahini, maple syrup, Braggs or soya sauce, rice vinegar, and lemon.
- When the greens are wilted and soft, reduce heat to low, add noodles and sauce, and stir.
- Serve in bowls and garnish with sesame seeds. You may toast the sesame seeds in a toaster oven or in a frying pan, but sesame seeds burn easily, so if you’re a scatterbrained cook (like me), use raw sesame seeds.
- Add Sriracha to taste.