Hello there! Welcome back to Kelly’s Kitchen; I am happy you’re here today. I have another summertime recipe for you this week: cold soba with miso eggplant. At this point in the summer, cool and refreshing meals are just the thing to beat the heat. I remember summer’s past, when I would visit friends in Los Angeles, we would always go to Little Tokyo to get cold soba. I remember the first time I had cold soba, I didn’t know you dipped the noodles into sauce, rather than pour it all over the noodles. And before my friend could stop me, I had poured my dipping sauce over my noodles. Such a faux pas!
I have always loved Japanese noodles, but what a revelation that first plate of cold soba was! I hadn’t had cold soba in a long time when Alex asked me to make some, so I thought it might be a good recipe to share with all of you! We had some Japanese eggplant in our CSA box, so I have a miso roasted eggplant to go along with the soba.
Let’s start with the miso eggplant.
Japanese eggplant is the long skinny cousin of the Italian eggplant; it has slightly sweeter flesh and softer skin. I had five of them, and I just sliced them into half inch thick slices. Drizzle about a teaspoon of sesame oil and add two teaspoons of light miso. Then add a generous sprinkling of togarashi and furikake. Gently stir to coat the eggplant with the miso and oil. Spread the slices out on a rimmed baking sheet.
Togarashi is a Japanese 7 spice blend. It’s a little spicy and usually has a combination of chiles, orange peel, sesame, and nori. It’s a great condiment for anything really, but you’ll often see it with noodle soups.
Furikake is another great Japanese condiment, mostly used to flavor a bowl of rice or onigiri (Japanese rice ball), but I like it on soups and noodles too. There are tons of varieties out there, but usually it consists of dried fish, seaweed, salt and sesame seeds. Mine happens to be a yuzu variety.
Miso Roasted Eggplant
- 5 Japanese Eggplants, sliced into 1/2" pieces or Italian eggplant
- 1 tsp Sesame Oil
- 2 tsp Light Miso
- Togarashi and Furikake to Taste
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
In a bowl, to the sliced eggplant, add sesame oil and miso. Stir gently to coat. sprinkle togarashi and furikake to taste.
Spread eggplant on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with more togarashi and furikake if needed. bake for about 15 minutes or until eggplant is tender and golden.
I roasted these guys at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes or so. Keep an eye on them and pull them out when they’re tender and golden.
The soba dipping sauce is easy to make. I had some leftover dashi (dashi is a typical Japanese stock made from kombu, dried bonito flakes and water) so I started with that. But you can use chicken stock, if you like.
Cold Soba Dipping Sauce
- 1 cup Dashi or Chicken Stock
- 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
- 2 tbsp tablespoons mirin or 1 tablespoon honey mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Combine dashi or stock, soy sauce and mirin. Taste, and add a little more soy if the flavor is not strong enough. Serve noodles with garnishes, with sauce on side for dipping
In addition to the dipping sauce, I have my eggplant and my other condiments are pickled ginger, wasabi and finely sliced scallions.
Green Tea Soba
For a fun alternative, the noodles I have are green tea soba noodles. Cook the noodles in boiling water according to the package directions, strain and quickly plunge noodles in an ice bath and stir with your hand to circulate the ice water until they are completely cool.
The plating of cold soba makes this dish special, it’s so simple. I have a rectangular plate which is perfect for serving the noodles and the dipping sauce on one dish. You will want to have the sauce on the same plate as the noodles because, as you can imagine, the dipping sauce will drip.
I sprinkled some furikake on the finished noodles. and added my scallions to the side
Savory, umami-rich flavors of Japan in the simplest of summer dishes. Definitely try cold soba with miso eggplant; it’s so refreshing and satisfying. If you’re in the mood for something else simple, refreshing and cool, try my ceviche recipe.
Thanks everyone for joining me today! Don’t forget you can find me on Instagram and Facebook too! Also, let me know if there is anything in particular you’d like to explore in this weekly column. Take care, be well, xo Kelly