Monday, April 6, 2009

soba noodles with veggies & scallops in ginger mushroom broth

Of all the things I want to do with this blog, one of the most important is to point out the variety of whole grains out there. If you follow a hypoglycemic diet, you give up white pasta, white rice, flour tortillas, white bread, etc. - which can be a drag sometimes, especially at restaurants, or when you find yourself peering wistfully at all the goodies behind the glass at the coffee shop. Fortunately, there are some really good, overlooked whole grains that everyone ought to try, whether you are watching your blood sugar or your waistline, or perhaps if you are bored with the usual stuff.

So, today's featured whole grain is...(drumroll, please)...soba noodles! Soba is a Japanese pasta, made from a blend of buckwheat and wheat flour. I love that there exists an Asian noodle I can eat, since Pad Thai and Pho and all those fresh-looking Asian noodle bowls are usually off limits unless I want to feel woozy and get a pounding headache. With soba, I can learn to make my own versions of these dishes, as well as a plethora of hey-what-do-we-have-in-the-fridge stir fries, such as the one I'm posting here. You should be able to find soba in the "ethnic foods" aisle of most nicer grocery stores. You'll notice that they are brown, somewhat like whole wheat pasta, but they cook a little more quickly.

I used frozen jumbo scallops in this stir fry, which, I admit were from New England, thus not as eco-friendly as I usually try to be. While I think eating locally-produced food is one of the most important ways to help reduce your carbon footprint, I don't advocate being rigid about it when (for instance) you want some interesting seafood in your stir fry. To quickly defrost the scallops, just put them in a plastic ziploc-type bag and immerse in a bowl of lukewarm water. You may have to change the water a few times (because the scallops will make it icy), but they will defrost in 20 minutes or so while you are getting your other ingredients ready. Most of the other ingredients in the recipe are in season - veggies you'll find at the farmer's market in early spring.

I had never cooked with baby bok choy before putting it in this recipe, but it is super easy to work with, and quite yummy. Although it is known as Chinese cabbage, the flavor is milder than the cabbage most of us familiar with - but, strips of regular cabbage would make a decent substitution if you can't find baby bok choy. Swiss chard would also work. I highly recommend branching out and trying some of those mysterious greens the markets are so full of right now.


2 tsps. toasted sesame oil
1 medium onion, sliced into half circles
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 oz. dried wild mushrooms (shitake, crimini, oyster, etc.)
1 carrot, peeled into strips
4-6 jumbo scallops, cut into halves or quarters
1 cup snow peas
2 heaping Tbsps. freshly grated ginger root
1/4 cup mushroom broth (created from rehydrating your mushrooms)
2 Tbsps. low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
soba noodles
2 baby bok choy
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 avocado

1. Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet. Add the onions. Cook for a few minutes before adding the garlic.

2. Meanwhile, rehydrate the dried wild mushrooms in a medium-sized bowl. Cover the mushrooms in hot water for 15-20 minutes. When you take the mushrooms out of the bowl, save the water to use as mushroom broth later in the recipe. (You can also keep the extra broth in the fridge for a while - I'll be posting another recipe soon in which I used it again.)

3. Use a vegetable peeler to make carrot strips. I used a yellow carrot, but any kind will do. Toss the carrot strips into the skillet with the onions. Next, add the scallop pieces and stir so that the scallops have contact with the skillet bottom. After 3 minutes, add the snow peas, and turn the scallops. Cook for another 3-4 minutes.

4. While things are cooking away in the skillet, use a knife to remove the brown skin from the ginger root. Then use the smallest part of a grater, catching the ginger and ginger juice in a bowl. You might have to scrape the grated ginger off the back of the grater with your fingers. Once you have enough, stir it into the skillet. Pour in the mushroom broth, and add the soy sauce and rice vinegar. Turn the scallops over again.

5. Boil the soba noodles according to package directions. This recipe made enough for two of us, plus enough leftovers for me to eat for lunch one day. So, shoot for three bowls' worth of noodles.

6. Slice the bok choy into long strips, and add them to the skillet. Squeeze in the lemon juice, and cook for 3 more minutes. Once the scallops look done, you're ready to go.

7. Serve the veggies and broth in a bowl on top of the noodles. Garnish with avocado slices.

Note: We are trying to remember to start taking (and posting) pictures of these dishes...but it's a work in progress. Enjoy!

Soba on Foodista

1 comment:

  1. Lovely idea! Try to find soba made purely from buckwheat and Mountain Yam (Yamaimo). It's even better if you can find fresh Mountain Yam - a slimy root when cut or grated. I love it raw with tuna and Natto. It's taken for its medicinal value. You can also try Somen which comes in several thickness and lengths. IT's easy to digest even for toddlers and elderly people. I cooked somen when anyone in my family's unwell.