Warming Soba Noodles with Spinach
December, 2006

Serves 4 / Buckwheat soba is Japan's nutritional noodle champion-a good source of protein, whole grains, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Ingredient tips: Bright red shichimi togarashi is a dried, seven-spice fiery chili mix, available in Japanese markets and well-stocked natural-foods stores. Check soba-noodle labels for sodium; amounts can vary widely.

1 pound spinach, well washed, roots and coarse stems removed
4 cups dashi (see
recipe
)
1 cup well-packed large bonito flakes
1/4 cup good-quality sake
1/4 cup mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
3-4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon natural cane sugar
1/2-1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 pound low-sodium soba noodles, uncooked
1 scallion, thinly sliced
4 tiny sprigs Italian flat-leaf parsley
Shichimi togarashi, to taste (optional)

1. Steam spinach over boiling water for 30 seconds, or just until bright green and wilted. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water. Gently squeeze spinach to release excess water. Lay spinach on a clean tea towel or cheesecloth, and gently roll up to absorb any remaining liquid. Set aside.
2. Place dashi in a saucepan over high heat. Stir in bonito flakes and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and pour through a fine sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth to strain out bonito flakes. Transfer stock back to saucepan and stir in sake, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and salt. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat to very low, and keep warm.
3. Place a large saucepan of water over high heat; bring to a boil. Add soba noodles and cook, stirring to prevent sticking, until just cooked through, 6–8 minutes. When just past al dente, drain the noodles in a colander and rinse under warm water.
4. Unroll spinach, squeeze out excess water, and cut into 1-inch pieces.
5. Return stock to a boil. Distribute even portions of noodles among four large soup bowls. Lay a small mound of spinach over noodles and cover with stock. Garnish each serving with scallions and a sprig of parsley. Season with shichimi togarashi, as desired.


PER SERVING: 324 cal, 4% fat cal, 1g fat, 0g sat fat, 10mg chol, 22g protein, 61g carb, 6g fiber, 838mg sodium