cup o’noodles…

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area afforded me the opportunity to taste many cultural flavors I otherwise would not have experienced had I lived in say, North Dakota.

The entire region is a gastronomic feast that delights all senses and most importantly, the tummy. It is here that I have developed and nurtured my love for food. You can literally eat your way around the globe without  ever leaving the county.

I credit some of my friends who introduced me to the foods I now hold near and dear to my belly. Kaliko, a Hawaiian of Korean and Japanese descent, fed me my first sashimi and help expand my fondness for Asian cuisine. Kwame was instrumental for exposing me to the bold and spicy flavors of Ethiopian food. And for showing me that great Mexican food definitely can not be found at the local Taco Bell, Ana gets my deepest thanks.

Japanese food ranks very high in my list of favorites. The dishes almost always require the use of only the freshest ingredients available. Most importantly, the food doesn’t just taste fantastic, they look amazing. With the belief that one eats with the eyes just as much as with the mouth, Japanese food is probably the most beautifully and artistically presented of all.

Zaru soba is a Japanese dish of cold noodles. The name is derived from the words for the bamboo tray used (zaru) and the noodles itself (soba.) Soba is traditionally made from buckwheat flour and is typically darker than the common egg noodles. You can see a different type of soba from my previous yakisoba post.

The soba is served cold, sometimes chilled, along with a hot broth to dip them in. Called mentsuyu, the hot broth is a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, mirin (rice wine), and dashi (soup stock.) Mentsuyu is commercially available but I prefer making my own since it’s so easy to put together. Besides, the store-bought ones are often too sweet or have this slightly “off” taste.

Chopped scallions and wasabi are served on the side and are added to the broth to suit individual tastes. I love wasabi and I prefer a lot in my mentsuyu—just enough to clear my sinuses. Nori (the same black dried seaweed used in sushi) flakes are sprinkled on the soba for garnish and additional flavor.

Cold-noodle dishes like the zaru soba are often served during the warmer months because of their cooling effects. It’s fun to loudly slurp the noodles and watch the broth splatter all over the place.

It’s simple, delicious, and fun to eat. What else would you want from your food?

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Zaru Soba

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