When you work from home, lunch time always comes around much sooner than you think. It may be due to my unstructured schedule, the fact that I’m a late riser, or both. In any event, I’m often scrambling to make something for lunch, especially when my husband reminds me that it’s 1pm and neither one of us has showered or thought of lunch.
If there are leftovers of any kind, I’m extra inspired. Lunch is partly prepared. For example, a few pan-fried potatoes and a couple of barbecued ribs become the foundation for a hash and salad meal. Pan-fried tofu squares and a handful of boiled broccoli get cut up and dropped into a pot of instant noodle soup. There have been many ho-hum lunches but this cold soba noodle from a couple weeks ago was worth sharing with you. That’s to say, I’d make it again!
It started with four leftover grilled mushrooms (large white ones) sitting in the fridge. Then I spied a bundle of soba noodles left from a package opened up months ago. The tia to red perilla and kinh gioi Vietnamese balm had flourished and grown a little crazy in the past weeks. They needed haircuts.
Cold soba noodles (zaru soba in Japanese) seemed like a natural but I didn’t want to take time for the dipping sauce of dashi and friends. Instead, I looked to a jar of Japanese seasoned soy sauce called banno joyu. (Yes, you can cook up your own flavored soy sauce! There’s a recipe in Asian Tofu and a vegan rendition here.) During the summer season, that soy sauce usually finds its way onto cold tofu but I decided to use it to dress cold soba noodles.
The rest was simply a matter of tossing the noodles with the herbs and sauce, then garnishing with green onions and toasted sesame seeds. I sent my husband to take a shower while I made lunch. That’s how quickly the soba noodles came together.
P.S. After finishing the banh mi book manuscript, I need a vacation. Seriously. It's been nonstop for a year. A little rest and relaxation is in order. Talk to you again in a week or so! Happy cooking.
Soba Noodles with Vietnamese Herbs
Yield: Serves 2 as a side or very light lunch
- A 3-ounce (90 g) bundle dried soba noodles
- 6 to 8 large fresh herb leaves, such as tia to red perilla. kinh gioi Vietnamese balm, green Japanese shiso or another favorite herb
- A rice bowl full of leftover something (such as grilled vegetables, tofu, or chicken), cut into sticks like thick bean sprouts
- Japanese seasoned soy sauce, use the vegan version or the regular
- 1 green onion, green part only, cut into thin rings and rinsed if they seem harsh
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the soba noodles and as instructed by the package instructions. Drain in a mesh strainer and rinse with cold water. If you’re in a rush, put the noodles in a bowl of ice water to cool quickly. Drain well.
- Cut the herb leaves crosswise into thin ribbons. Put into a bowl along with the noodles and cut-up leftovers. Drizzle on the seasoned soy sauce, tasting to make sure you have enough. There’s usually lots at the bottom of the bowl so beware. Garnish with green onion and a sprinkling of the sesame seeds. Serve.