I fell in love with soba noodles on a trip to Japan last year. Until then, my Western experiences of ‘authentic’ Japanese cuisine had led me to believe that the Japanese subsisted on sushi alone, washed down with green tea by day and sake by night. I was obviously wrong (about the sushi anyway!). And everything I sampled whilst there was so tasty (even the mollusc nigiri served to us in Tokyo’s Tsukuji fish market that was still very much alive and rippling on its bed of rice…) and fresh and healthy that I’m planning a return just for the food (and also maybe the sake).
At lunchtime, we often stopped for a simple bowl of steaming noodles topped with a few veggies, perhaps a little shredded meat or prawn tempura, and sat slurping over them trying to catch the slippery noodles, our chopsticks poised while miso broth streamed down our chins. And since coming home, I’ve been set on recreating that happiness, miso chins and all. This soup is one of my favourites.
Today’s hidden talent: Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour and so are gluten-free. They have a wonderfully savoury, almost nutty taste to them. Barley miso – quite a dark, aged miso – has a real depth of flavour and is full of umami which is what makes it so tasty on our tongues! Miso also has lots of complete protein, is full of nutrients, and is a natural source of probiotics which make for a healthy gut and a happier immune system. So basically: EAT MORE MISO.
The flavours of this soup are rich and earthy from the dark miso and mushrooms, yet at the same time the dish feels clean and light – the teeny tiny enoki mushrooms add a lovely hint of sweetness.
Miso soup with soba noodles, mushrooms & flash-fried beef
Serves 2 as a main
– 150-200g rump steak, fat trimmed
– teaspoon sunflower oil
– 1 litre beef stock*
– 6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced
– 1/2 bulb pak choi, stalks finely sliced
– 3 tablespoons barley miso paste*
– 1 tablespoon soy sauce*
– 60g enoki mushrooms
*To make this dish gluten-free, remember to: check your stock ingredients for gluten; replace the barley miso with a paler gluten-free miso (one that doesn’t contain wheat or barley); and to use gluten-free soy sauce.
Cook the noodles according to instructions. Drain and set aside.
Remove the beef from the fridge, rub in the sunflower oil and let it sit at room temperature while you prepare the soup.
In a large saucepan, bring the stock to the boil. Add the shiitake mushrooms and pak choi stalks and keep on a low simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the enoki mushrooms and pak choi leaves and simmer for a minute or two more.
Remove from the heat and stir in the miso and soy sauce.
In a dry frying pan on a high heat, flash fry the beef for a couple of minutes on each side. Slice thinly. Tip: the beef will continue to cook slightly once you add it to the broth.
Put the noodles into large bowls, cover with the soup and vegetables, and finally the beef. Serve with chopsticks and soup spoons.
Source: Recipe and photos by pip & little blue.