stone cold soba as a matter of fact

Note: I’ve been mucking round with fonts and things, Blogger’s formatting is a bit of a nightmare and it has all gone horribly wrong. I ended up having to put my old font back but stupid blogger won’t seem to let me get rid of all these weird gaps between the photos and the text. Shoulda left well alone! Maybe the .com went to my head…

Yes, again. Like you’ve never been obsessed with a plate shaped like an autumn leaf before.
I was recently reading Wayfaring Chocolate, one of my favourite food blogs, and its writer/custodian Hannah acknowledged her considerable fear of spiders, and how she hilariously freaked out at the sight of one in her room before realising it was in fact a sock that she’d owned for years, with spiders printed on it. In this spirit of laughing with, not at, I’d like to disclose how massively scared I am of…pelicans. Now as I said last time, I’m honestly pretty scared of many things, to the point of it not being particularly hilarious (I’m talking panic attacks) but people tend to find this specific fear funny. And well they might. When Tim and I were in Europe earlier this year we went to three different zoos and every time, I had to get Tim to be on lookout for them and whenever they were on the horizon, he’d tell me which direction to not look in order to avoid accidentally seeing their scary eyes and death-beaks.
If you’d read our little blog while we were traveling you’ll know how much I wanted to see a capybara. At one point, when it was starting to look unlikely, I said loudly “wouldn’t it be just my luck if the capybara and the pelicans were in the same enclosure” to kind of try and tempt fate or something, but no luck. There were just horrible shuddery pelicans (if anything, it’s like fate misheard me and was like “okay, gotcha, so you want heaps of pelicans and no capybara, right?)
In case you’re wondering what’s the deal, well solidarity, for one thing. And it’s a blog! I share without hurdles, I share without filters! (Don’t worry, this is actually me filtering.) And in case you’re wondering what’s the deal with pelicans, I had a spine-freezingly scary nightmare about them. And from that night forth, I’ve tried to keep my distance and avoid eye contact with them.

Anyway: Noodles. I love them. Cold, hot, spicy, salty, satay-y, wide, thin, whatever. In this case, intertwined with vegetables and with a hot and sour sauce coating each cold strand of soba. The always-important Nigella Lawson has this cool salad in Nigella Express which uses tom yam paste in the dressing, which uses the flavours of soup that you’d normally use said paste in, but in a concentrated manner. I took that dressing and instead dressed grainy buckwheat soba noodles and steamed vegetables with it. It only turned out the way it has because of what I had in the fridge and freezer (not a lot, to be honest) – you could use any number of things to make it SO much better than mine. Like broccoli, avocado, carrots, rocket, zucchini, mushrooms and so on. You could also swap it for any other noodles you’ve got hanging round – rice sticks, ramen, somen…I wouldn’t choose udon for this, since it suits a more solid bitey strand, but really as long as you’ve got the dressing, you’re all good.

I know I said it’d be Banana Pudding Ice Cream this time, but I only ended up making it late last night, and it wasn’t properly frozen this morning. So no photos, and therefore no blog post. I can tell you though, having ploughed into it with a spoon several times, that it is amazingly good and will be worth the wait.
Soba Noodles with Steamed Vegetables and Hot and Sour Dressing
(adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe)

Serves as many as you provide for. I’d hazard a guess that this dressing can deliver for noodles for between 1-4 people, any more than that and start increasing quantities.
Soba noodles
Selection of vegetables – I used frozen peas, frozen soybeans, cavolo nero, and one smoked capsicum because that’s all I could cobble together.
Coriander or mint, sesame seeds, sesame oil etc to serve.
1-2 teaspoons tom yam paste (depending on your taste)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar, lemon juice or lime juice (I had a lime – yuss!)
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
Good pinch of salt, or a splash of soy sauce

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a large bowl.

Cook the noodles according to packet instructions. While you’re boiling the water for the noodles, fit either a metal colander or a steamer over the top of the pot you’re cooking them in and put in it any of your vegetables that need cooking (like…peas yes, avocado, no) and allow them to steam away.

Once the noodles have had their time, tip the colander of vegetables into the bowl of dressing, drain the noodles under running cold water in the same colander (well, this works if you used a colander – if you have a steamer just drain them separately.)

Tip the noodles into the bowl as well and carefully mix it all together to incorporate the vegetables and the dressing. Divide between the plates of people you’re serving. Top with coriander and/or mint, and sesame seeds if you like.

Super spicy and sharp and awesome. Taste to see if you need any more of a particular ingredient – don’t feel constrained to the (admittedly already vague) parameters I gave you. You might find you want more heat, more salt, or that you want it to be oilier. Tim and I had this for dinner on Monday night and it was damn wonderful, the slightly softened greens leaning into the noodles as they twirled round my fork, and the strong buckwheat flavour of said noodles being ably challenged by the hot, limey dressing soaking into them. We then had it for lunch today, and apart from the already annoying peas (they just don’t stick to your fork) losing their bright colour overnight, it was just as good on day two.

Title via: Elton John’s The Bitch Is Back. That’s right I love Elton John. If you click through the footage of him singing this on Top of the Pops in 1974 is grainy, but very fun (like soba noodles, incidentally.)

 Music lately:
Somehow, even with the internet making everything accessible and instant, I hadn’t thought to look up Missing You from the Set It Off soundtrack, which would make it…15 years since I’ve heard it? It’s emotional, it’s harmony-tastic, it’s got CHAKA KHAN. Closely rivaled by En Vogue’s equally dramatic Don’t Let Go (Love) from the same album, for ‘best song ever from a movie or anything ever’.


Next time: That Ice Cream.

9 thoughts on “stone cold soba as a matter of fact

  1. georgi says:

    hi Laura, i like your new fonts and things! quite different but subtle kind of different .. however I find the post font too tiny! i had to ctrl + a few times (twice actually) and then i could read it. upon reflection, this may just be my eyes. just thought i'd let you know anyway. but please know, my eyes are terrible. on another note, i'll definitely be making this soon. thank you for being a continuing source of dinner inspiration. x


  2. Sue @ FiveCourseGarden says:

    Seriously good looking noodle salad. Seriously awesome plate. I don't use buckwheat noodles enough — they are so versatile, warming (even when cold) and such a cool colour. Now the pelican thing… Pelicans are my good luck bird. I was first entranced by them dive bombing for fish somewhere in Chile, and then they flew across my path a few times as I drove into San Francisco, promising a special visit. But I'm afraid of horses, wetas, spiders, and corned beef… so to each their own phobia!


  3. Hannah says:

    *high five of glee*

    Solidarity, sister! My face right now is the shape of being utterly chuffed 🙂 🙂 I can't even tell you how ecstatic your words have made me! And you've completely reinforced my belief that it's worthwhile to tell stories about myself being a nincompoop, because then at least someone enjoys it 😉

    Also, while I've never been scared of pelicans (probably because I don't have any pelican socks), I do find it really unpleasant to think of the stored fish rotting away in their gullets.

    So, instead, I'll think of delicious nutty soba and sparkly zingy dressings by a fabulous friend-blogger 🙂


  4. Mairi@Toast says:

    Sounds delicious…haven't come across tom yam paste…must keep an eye out as I love tom yam soup. And me I am scared of spiders….not good with them at all 🙂 And never a fan of feeding the ducks as a child or an adult either as they all come quacking right at you! Very much looking forward to the banana pudding ice cream!


  5. Emma says:

    If I had a gullet, I could eat so much more! Maybe. Hold on. Oh. I just googled what gullet is, and it looks like I already have one. I guess I more accurately need to learn how to store food more (im)properly in it.

    I have always thought of pelicans as being ridiculously cute. I have never thought of Elton John as being anywhere near cute. Spiders are mildly cute to me, En Vogue is on the fence, and I love soba noodles.


  6. Anonymous says:

    I, too, am afraid of a great many things, which does often end in panic, as well. It's the one thing about myself I wish I could change – being afraid of so many things. Spiders used to be pretty high on the list, but I'm proud to say I usually let them live these days, and take them outside. I've come a loooong way…

    Your noodles look delish, and Elton John – yay! Got to see him a few years ago in Vegas at his Red Piano show and he was AMAZING. I LOVE the title of this post, made me laugh 🙂


  7. Anonymous says:

    Love the cavolo nero in this. I've never used it in Asian-y things but it makes perfect sense. Oh pelicans! Never thought of them as scary but I guess they are pretty sinister, seeing as they can eat small dogs and everything… yikes!


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