Kimchi, Soba, and Pesto

My recent casual but frequent abuse use of umeboshi, the sour salty pickled plums loved in Japan, set in motion a series of meals involving kimchi and fresh Korean soba noodles. Little Tess went to the Galleria to pick up some more umeboshi for me and saw that they were selling the same brand of fresh soba she loved in California. Like any good shopper who doesn’t stick to her list she fell for a container of kimchi which she’d been craving.

Nengmyeøn: Korean summer noodles
It was one of those “busy-lazy” days when cooking was low on my list, but we were hungry. Mr. Tess had found edamame beans and some lovely cherry tomatoes at the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market, and we had a large piece of beautiful but left-over Atlantic salmon. I also had some still-usable green onions, a small cucumber, and a nice pear. And of course, noodles came to mind. Korean buckwheat noodles.
I viewed this as an opportunity to try the instant broth packets which were included in the bag with the noodles.
Turns out that the broth was about what one would expect: salty, bland, chemical…
But it was wet, kept the noodles from sticking together, and with condiments and my good toppings, the meal was fine.

New Year’s Soba with Duck
We shared our lucky-long New Year’s soba and duck with my sister and brother and his wife. The dish is a tradition at our house for the holiday, and this year we ate at her house.
I cooked the food in my own kitchen and brought it over. With a little planning, the meal made the trip without a problem. I made some carrot tsukemono, bought some pickled onions, and matcha ice cream. My sister-in-law provided some very nice champange.
After a hard day of New Year’s Eve shopping at Ikea, I was too tired to stay for toasting with more champange at midnight—
I was lucky and long asleep when the old year ended…

Noodles and Japanese Shells

Noodles—quick convenient comfort, ease and pleas-ing, satisfaction certain, and fine when cooking for me. While Mr. Tess was working in New York during the past two weeks, my meals centered on this flour and water paste: a blank canvas each time, with a palette of possibilities. Here is a selection of options to stimulate your imagination—the small pictures link to recipes which I’ve written about in the last year or so. And finally a tuna salad with echoes of Japanese flavors.

Kamo Nanban Soba

This year we missed the toshikoshi soba noodles crossing over to the next year. There are a few who claim that this is the beginning of a new decade, though I am not one of them. I start counting with “1” not “0.” Twenty-ten, “2010,” does look more exciting and significant than “2011,” just as “Y-2K,” was celebrated as the beginning of a new century in the sexy-looking year “2000” and not in “2001.” But “one” is the first number, so the first year is “one.” There is some logic to thinking that nothing (0) comes before something (1), so then zero would come before one…

Soba with Miso Lamb Ragu

soba-w-lamb_5726The day started sunny spring bright; the leaves suddenly screen the view of the florescent green plastic playground in the park behind my house, and the woodchuck (-chuckette? and possible future -chuckles?) has made its presence known by beginning a tunnel into the raised bed that will be our tomato garden. Mr. Tess cut the dandelions grass for the first time this year, glad that mower started right up—because he thinks he must have remembered to put [something] into the tank so it wouldn’t be filled with varnish. Then he realized that someone was hungry enough over the winter to nibble the gas line.

Soba Sushi

Soba SushiThis is an unusual dish: sushi made with soba noodles rather than rice! Apparently it’s not well known even in Japan. Funny, but there are recipes in two of my cookbooks: The Japanese Kitchen, and Washoku!

Successful Soba Noodles

soba noodles close-up
The third time is the charm! Cooking Japanese with noodles I made myself is an accomplishment after my two previous failures. This time I used a finer ground buckwheat flour, bread flour, and vital wheat gluten. I know that I’ll never be a soba master—100% buckwheat, hand rolled and cut noodles—require more than I’m able to do! But the dough was lively and resilient. The smell as I worked was pleasant and nutty.