Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chicken and Walnuts with Soba Noodles

Do you know about soba noodles?  They are a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat and are very healthy!  They are actually made from the ground seed of the buckwheat plant, not the grain itself, so the noodles are high in fiber and low on the "bad kind of carbs" list.  They also contain a complete protein, which is unusual for plants.  Anyway, enough of that-- how do they taste?!  Well, they are delicious!!  Slightly nutty, but very mild in flavor, they taste like a light whole wheat pasta.  They cook very quickly-- about 5 minutes, and taste yummy eaten hot or cold.
Traditionally, soba noodles are served by themselves on a lovely type of woven mat with some type of dipping sauce.  You wind up a bit of noodle, dunk it in the sauce and eat it!  Some people that make soba noodles in Japan are artists, and it is a big deal the way they go about their craft.  However, mostly they are made like any other noodles, in a factory, and with those, I feel like it's fine to use them non-traditionally!  I like to serve them in stir fries or cold salads.  Here's an easy one that I think you'll enjoy!  Feel free to substitute other veggies.  Baby bok choy was on sale this time!
Note:  I hate to wash pots and pans, so I make this in stages using one frying pan.  It seems weird, but it works and doesn't take any more time than juggling three pans to make dinner!

Chicken and Walnuts with Soba Noodles (serves 2 generously)
1 large chicken breast half or 2 small ones, sliced very thinly
4 baby bok choy, cut cross-wise into about 1/4 inch slices
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
1/4 cup coarsely broken walnuts
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbl. Canola oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine (Mirin-- at most grocery stores in the Asian foods aisle)
1 tsp. Sriracha sauce (is that how you spell it?)
2 Tbl. water or chicken broth if you have it around
2 tsp. cornstarch
about a 1/2-3/4 inch bundle of soba noodles (in the Asian foods aisle-- try to get thin noodles)

Mix the soy sauce, rice wine, Sriracha sause, water and cornstarch together in a small cup or bowl.  Don't worry if the cornstarch seems lumpy, but mix as well as you can.  Set this aside.
In a large frying pan, toast the 1/4 cup walnuts until fragrant.  Set aside.  Wipe out the pan with a paper towel of any little walnut crumbs.
Put about 2-3 inches of water in the pan.  Add 1 tsp. salt and bring to a boil.  Add the soba noodles and boil for 5 minutes, or until almost soft, but still a tiny bit resistant to the bite.  Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse well with cold water.  Set aside and wipe the pan dry if necessary.
Over medium high heat, heat the oil in the center of the pan.  Add the garlic and allow to cook until fragrant.  Add the sliced chicken and stir fry until browned a little and cooked through.  This won't take long.  Add the bok choy, carrots, and onions.  Stir and cook until the bok choy is bright green.  Add the soy sauce / rice wine mixture.  Cook and stir a bit until bubbling, then add the drained soba noodles.  Cook and stir over medium heat until everything kind of absorbs the sauce, but not too long or it will get mushy.  Serve immediately in shallow bowls.  Quick-Simple-Healthy-Yummy!

This is the soba package I buy at the Japanese grocery store.

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