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RECIPES

Toshikoshi Soba

YIELD Serves 8

INTRODUCTION

 

"Eating toshikoshi (year-end) soba on New Year's Eve is a Japanese national tradition. The buckwheat noodles are believed to cleanse your body for the year ahead. They're also a perfect light dish to enjoy at midnight."

INGREDIENTS

 

Dashi broth

  • 3 large pieces dried kombu (kelp), each 10 by 4 inches, gently wiped with a damp towel
  • 3 quarts plus 11/2 cups water
  • 4 1/2 cups packed katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • 1 cup Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 8 pieces abura-age (fried tofu puffs), about 2 ounces total weight
  • 1 cup halved, stemmed enoki mushrooms
  • 24 snow peas, trimmed
  • 1 3/4 pounds dried soba noodles
  • 4 scallions, including tender green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 6 ounces kamaboko (fish cake), cut into twenty-four 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Leaves from 4 fresh mitsuba or chervil sprigs, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Ichimi togarashi (Japanese red pepper flakes), optional

PREPARATION

 

For the dashi:

In a large stockpot, combine the kombu and water and let soak at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. (You can soak as long as overnight, which will allow the kombu to release more flavor.) Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove and discard the kombu and reduce the heat so the liquid is at a simmer. Add the katsuobushi and gently mix into the liquid; do not stir vigorously. Simmer gently for 10 minutes longer. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the contents of the sieve . You should have about 3 quarts broth. Measure 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) for the soba broth and reserve the remainder for another use.

For the soba broth:

Rinse the stockpot, add the 21/2 quarts dashi, the soy sauce, and the mirin and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the abura-age and the enoki, cover, and remove from the heat. Keep warm until ready to serve.

To assemble the dish:

Prepare an ice bath. Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the peas and cook for 1 minute. Using a skimmer, transfer the peas to the ice bath to halt the cooking, then drain. Add the noodles to the boiling water and stir with a fork or chopsticks to make sure they don't stick together. Cook until al dente, 4 to 5 minutes, then drain.

Divide the noodles among 8 warmed bowls. Ladle 1 1/4 cups of the soba broth into each bowl , and divide the aburageage, enoki mushrooms, peas, scallions, kamaboko, and mitsuba evenly among the bowls. Sprinkle each serving with a pinch of salt and with a pinch of ichimi togarashi, if using. Serve at once.

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Takashi Yagihashi

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