Friday, March 9, 2012

Soba Noodle with Yakitori Chicken

A couple months ago I saw this dish in New Hope 360's Delicious Living magazine and thought it was a good way to introduce my friends to Japanese buckwheat noodles. I grew up in Tokyo, which means I ate soba noodles a few times a week. In most seasons, they are normally served in a bowl with clear dashi (seafood broth made from dried bonito fish and kelp seaweed) topped with shrimp tempura (my favorite). But in the hot summer, they are served cold (no broth) and dipped in a slightly sweet cold sauce made from soy sauce, mirin (cooking sake) and dashi. Japanese don't eat soba the way it's prepared in the DL recipe, but I think it is definitely a good version for my American friends. It's basically Japanese-style "grilled chicken pasta," and I thought I would enjoy it too. Yakitori means skewered grilled chicken. In Japan, there are many Yakitori-only restaurants or pubs where they cook different parts of the chicken, including liver and heart... all served on skewers. These places are normally inexpensive, and, like sushi bars, the chefs grill food in front of you over the counter. It's great fun to watch, and the irresistible smell fills the air inside and out to the street. Yakitori is traditionally paired with hot sake in winter and cold sake or chilled beer in summer.

Wine recommendations:
White: Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc (see page 2 of link), Pinot Grigio.
Red: Grenache (see p 2).

Soba Noodle with Yakitori Chicken
(Serves 4)

Recipe is adapted from Delicious Living magazine, January 2012

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into1-inch pieces
8 small bamboo skewers, pre-soaked in water
4 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce, divided
4 teaspoons honey, divided
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
8 ounces soba noodles
2 cups snow peas or cut asparagus, blanched
4-5 scallions (white and green), sliced on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound button, cremini or shiitake mushroom
1 (about 1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons canola oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, for garnish

1. Preheat grill or broiler. Thread chicken onto skewers, leaving a bit of space between pieces.
Season lightly with salt and peppe.
2. In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons soy sauce, honey and 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Brush chicken with the mixture liberally. Grill or broil for about 4-5 minutes per side or until cooked through.
3. While chicken is cooking, bring a large pot of water (about 4 quarts) to boil and cook noodles al dente,  about 5-6 minutes.
4. Heat remaining sesame and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook scallions and mushrooms until tender and lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and snow peas; stir for 1 minute. Add remaining soy sauce, honey and drained Soba noodles, and stir well. Season to taste with black pepper and soy sauce. You may add a little chili pepper if you like.
To serve, divide noodles among four plates and top with Yakitori chicken.

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