Sesame Somen with 2 Types of Kale, Assorted Asian Veggies, Tofu, and Imitation Sashimi (Gravlax) + Ryokucha (Tea)
This was me missing Japan. Wasc and I traveled to Japan last June (oh-my-it-was-so-hot-and-humid, and I live in a place where the summers are hotter than Tokyo and the humidity almost nearly reaches that of Tokyo in the summertime). I miss the food, the oh-so-delicious and good-for-you food. Eating out in Japan never gave me tummy aches like I usually get when I eat out in the U.S. The food there is just…fresher, and made healthier. I think it’s the oil restaurants here use. Or food in Japan is magic. I’d say it’s magic. :)
The desserts there were oh so divine. Every pâtissière we entered was stocked with freshly made pastries. If you haven’t noticed, I have a sweet tooth. But again, as with many food items, I have a very specific type of sweet tooth. I can’t stand American sweets—they are WAY overloaded with sugar! So imagine how happy I was when I arrived in Japan and all the sweets there had just the right amount of sugar and moistness. This is probably one of the things I miss most about Japan. Also, if you love ice cream, sorbets, soft serves, gelato, I highly recommend visiting Shibuya. We went at night and the streets were crowded (but in an organized way—not like chaotic Black Friday crowded, but definitely the same density of people or more).
This was one of the Gelato stores we visited in Shibuya that night. Yes, ONE of MANY.
Wasc eating his Gelato in a cone.
Some of the awesome flavors they offer in Japan that are a little harder to find in the U.S. I had apricot and cantaloupe gelato.
I will say though, that was probably the one time I saw so many teenagers out in public. Probably because it was Saturday night. :P It was all worth it though because as we got off the JR Line, our attention was turned towards a live band playing on the street. Funky. Soulful. Flavorful. Energetic. Not to mention very colorful band known as ゴマアブラ (Goma Abura) which translates to “Sesame Oil.” I bought their CD :)
If you noticed, the title says “Imitation Sashimi.” I really love sashimi, but it’s a little more difficult for me to find sushi-grade fish here. So, the gravlax (Norwegian-style cured salmon) poses as salmon sashimi here. ;) It’s hard to tell from the pictures, no? FYI: Sashimi (raw fish), not sushi rolls, is considered sushi in Japan. As well it should be, it’s so delicious— Especially in Tokyo at the Tsukiji Fish Market, one of the most famous fish markets in the world. But we’ll save that story for a later post.
If you notice the dark, crispy-looking stuff here. This is kale. I used it in place of seaweed because I do not have any on hand and just so happened to have made some Parmesan and Chili Kale chips last night. I wasn’t really pleased with the chips. At least, that is what I thought when I took them right out of the oven. After letting them sit overnight—the flavor and taste became much better. In any case, I wanted to mention that these kale chips taste JUST like the fried spicy seaweed chips I used to buy at the Asian market. Exactly like it. But made with kale. And it has a bit of Parmesan cheese.
The “chips” provide a good contrast in texture and taste in this dish.
緑茶 - Ryokucha is a Japanese Green Tea. This particular brand is from Samovar Life. I really do like their teas. And the cute teacup.
This particular tea is very good for washing down the somen dish.
I’d recommend you make these chips beforehand, say overnight so that they can cool down and aerate before serving with the sesame somen recipe (also below).
Chili spiced Kale and Parmesan Chips (adapted from Cook Shoot Blog)
- 1/2 bunch of kale, ribs removed and chopped (does not have to be small pieces because the kale will greatly shrink in the oven)
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line baking pan with foil.
- Put chopped kale onto baking pan.
- Drizzle olive oil over kale and toss.
- Combine chili powder and Parmesan cheese in a bowl and mix.
- Sprinkle chili powder/Parmesan mixture over kale and toss.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes or until just crispy or near crispy. Personally I didn’t care to have all of them crispy because it turns into dust in your mouth…. NOTE: At about 5 minutes into baking, toss the kale again.
- Remove from oven and let cool overnight.
Now, the awaited somen recipe!!
Sesame Somen with 2 Types of Kale, Assorted Asian Veggies, Tofu, and Imitation Sashimi (Gravlax) + Ryokucha (Tea) (adapted from TasteSpotting)
For the Sauce
- 1/2 tbsp chunky peanut butter (you can choose smooth but I like to find bits of peanut in my food)
- 1/2 tbsp Shoyu (Japanese soy sauce) Can substitute for regular soy sauce.
- 1/2 tbsp mirin
- 1/2 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
For the Veggies & Noodles
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 bunch of kale
- 1/2 cup broccoli bits (or shelled edamame if you have)
- 1/2 bunch of scallions (thinly sliced and divided into two: white/light greens in one bowl, greens in another bowl)
- 1/2 cup of bean sprouts
- 1/2 block firm tofu (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
- 4 oz. somen noodles (cooked using directions on packaging)
To Top off Noodles
- Gravlax (to top)
- Pickled daikon and carrot salad (garnish: You can find this at the Asian Market in the vegetable section. This is the same kind of salad you put in Bahn Mi-Vietnamese sandwiches. I will post a recipe for this soon if you’d rather make your own.)
- Bean sprouts (garnish)
- 1/4 green bell pepper, thinly sliced lengthwise
- Toasted sesame seeds (garnish)
- Chili spiced Kale and Parmesan Chips
- Mix together peanut butter, soy sauce, mirin, garlic, ginger. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Whisk in sesame oil and chicken broth to the sauce mixture.
- Heat olive oil in wok/pan on medium high, carefully add tofu.
- Heat tofu until it is lightly browned on all sides. It is best to lift the wok/pan and toss the tofu in the pan if you can so that the tofu doesn’t break under the pressure of your spatula/cooking utensil.
- Remove tofu and set aside.
- Add just a little more olive oil to wok/pan (still on medium high heat), add kale and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Do not overcook the kale here (it will still be on the pan cooking when you add other ingredients), otherwise it will become mushy.
- Add broccoli, (edamame if you have), white/light green scallions, garlic, ginger. Stir fry for about 1 minute to cook broccoli.
- Stir in noodles and sauce. Toss gently until everything is well distributed and coated with sauce.
- Stir in beansprouts, cooking for only about 20-30 seconds.
- Gently toss in tofu.
- Remove from heat.
- Top first with Pickled Daikon and Carrot salad.
- Add fresh bean sprouts and bell pepper over salad.
- Top with 3-4 slices of Gravlax.
- Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds (toss sesame seeds over medium high heat in wok/pan for 1.5 minutes) and green parts of scallion.
- Set some Chili spiced Kale and Parmesan Chips on the side or sprinkle on top.
- Serve hot with Ryokucha (Green tea).