On New Year’s Eve in Japan, people traditionally eat toshikoshi soba noodles. “Toshikoshi” means end of the old year crossing to the new year. Eating noodles on New Year’s will bring longevity, a life as long as noodles. So we ate our lucky noodles!
I made the same recipe last year, but this year we ate the soba with our daughter, who is here for the holidays. This recipe is easy to make, though the duck breast makes it a very festive meal. We managed to stay up until the year changed, by watching a dvd my daughter brought from Spain: a few episodes based on novellas written by Ruth Rendell. It’s nice having our daughter here.
- 1 boned duck breast half, excess fat removed and reserved
- I removed the skin, but slow-fried it for the schmalz and grebenes
- 14 ounces dried soba noodles
- 6 cups kakejiru
(broth for hot noodles)
- 1 nag-negi (Japanese long onion)
or 4 thick green onions
- 1/4 cup sake (rice wine)
- 1 bunch mitsuba, cut into 2-inch lengths, or watercress
- Shichimi togarashi (Japanese Seven-Spice Powder)
•• Slice the duck breast diagonally 1/4-inch thick slices.
•• Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook the soba al dente. Drain, and rinse the noodles under cold running water. Rub them gently until they are cold and no longer starchy. Drain well.
•• Begin warming the broth over low to medium heat.
•• Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the reserved duck fat, and cook until oil covers the bottom of the skillet. Remove the duck fat, and add the duck breat and long onion. Cover the skillet, and cook until the surface of the duck turns whitish and the bottom is golden. Turn the duck and scallions.
•• Sprinkle the sake over the duck, and cook, covered, for 2 minutes.
•• Transfer the duck and long onion to the pot of broth. Add the noodles and reheat for a minute or two.
•• Divide the noodles among three bowls, and pour the hot broth over them. Top with the duck and onions. Divide the mitsuba or watercress among the bowls, and sprinkle with shichimi togarashi.
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