I have a confession to make: I’ve never cooked with sesame oil before.
I have another confession to make: cooking Asian food intimidates me.
But last week I was feeling gutsy, so I decided to try my hand at something I love to order when I’m out out (or buy from the prepared foods vegan section at Whole Foods). I decided to make Japanese-style Spicy Soba Noodles.
And feeling even more adventurous, I cooked with not just one but two (!) types of sesame oil.
Ever had soba noodles before? It’s made from buckwheat and is a popular Japanese dish, served either hot or cold.
For my first attempt, I used a spicy sesame oil infused with chili peppers plus a dark roasted sesame oil. Both exude the most mouth-watering aromas and enveloped my dish with a flavor depth I associate with restaurant-quality food.
I love the texture contrasts in Japanese food, and I also appreciate how pretty most dishes look.If you’ve ever eaten at a nice Japanese restaurant, you’ll know what I mean – some of the dishes almost look like works of art! Beautiful slice of sashimi, artfully arranged bowls of ramen, fanned out pieces of vegetables, and adorable desserts, everything looks carefully composed.
So for this dish I decided to go for veggies with fun colors. I used crisp red cabbage and bright green scallions first. I sauteed them with garlic and ginger in dark sesame oil…
After the cabbage and scallions cooked for a few minutes, I also added shredded carrots…
Before plating, I tossed in some steamed edamame for added protein…
Then I sprinkled a generous amount of cilantro on top to finish the dish.
The end result is a bright and fiery soba dish. I’m really glad I branched out of my comfort zone of cooking dessert and pasta. Although now that I think about it, I can easily sub in whole wheat pasta for soba anyway… But for now, I’m savoring my Asian concoction!
Spicy Soba Noodles
Adapted from a Gourmet recipe
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili garlic paste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon hot sesame oil
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shelled, steamed edamame
8 oz soba noodles
cilantro for garnish
Stir together all sauce ingredients until brown sugar is dissolved, then set aside.
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then sauté ginger and garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium, then add cabbage and scallions and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp-tender, about six minutes. Add carrots and sauce and simmer for two minutes.
While cabbage is cooking, cook soba according to package directions. Drain in a colander and rinse under cool water to stop cooking and remove excess starch. Add noodles and edamame with vegetable and sauce mixture in pan. Toss well and serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro.
Warning: this is SPICY! As in my mouth is burning after a few bites spicy. It is whoa I had a heavy hand with that chili paste and infused sesame oil spicy. But also, this is so addicting, I can’t stop eating it spicy. It’s that kind of spicy, that kind of good.