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January 25, 2012: “Fox” Noodles

January 25, 2012

The Japanese name for this dish is kitsune soba or “Fox Noodles.” Soba is a buckwheat noodle popular in Japanese cooking. This is a completely vegetarian dish the way I make it. What it makes it “foxy” is that supposedly, the fox’s favorite food is a thin, fried strip of tofu. With the tofu is blanched spinach, the soba, pieces of scallion, Japanese spices, all in a hearty, yet light broth called dashi. Kitsune Soba is a popular but inexpensive dish, in Japan. I have altered it slightly, by making a more vegetarian version of dashi and making the tofu thicker. This combines two of my favorite dishes: age dashi dofu or fried tofu in broth with my own dish Spinach-Noodle Salad. Kitsune Soba is a bit more work than my Spinach-Noodle dish, but is well worth the effort, plus you get a warm and tasty broth that is perfect for a cold Winter’s day.

Fried Tofu:  Wash a block of firm tofu and press under a weight and a plate on a slanted board in the sink. The object is to remove as much H2O as you can. Cut the block in half, then each into thirds. You should end up with 18 thin-ish pieces. Double-roll each piece in potato or corn starch. [What I mean by “double-roll” is roll the pieces of tofu once in the starch, wait a few seconds, then roll again.] Remove rolled pieces to another plate (if you leave it in the starch, the remaining moisture in the tofu will turn you starch into glue.) I DO NOT deep fry the pieces and here’s why: if any of the pieces touch each other during cooking they will stick to one another. I have more control by frying them in a non-stick pan, in corn oil and keep a butter knife handy to separate pieces that DO touch (Oh, and they will.) Turn pieces to cook all sides. Transfer to a paper towel. Cool at room temperature. All this is a tad fussy, but again…it’s worth it.

Dashi is a thin, but hearty broth used in many Japanese dishes. It is traditionally made with bonito flakes and kombu, a Japanese kelp. I’m fine with the kelp, but due to that I am a vegetarian and that I have raised fish, I can’t, for the life of me stop equating bonito flakes with fish food. I like my untraditional, but tasty recipe for dashi.

Vegetarian Dashi:  Bring 1 Qt. H2O to a boil. As it approaches boiling add 4 medium-sized dried shiitake mushroom. I got a whole bunch of gourmet goods from my former student, Regan, for Christmas. One (of many) things she gave me was an assortment of dried mushrooms. I threw 2 Oyster Mushrooms in as well. To the H2O I also added 2 pieces of 6″ kombu; 1, 6″ piece of each wakame and smoked dusle. When the H2O comes to boil, remove mushrooms and cut in half. Return to stock. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1/2 hour. Strain veggies from stock and return to medium heat. Add 2 Tblsp. each mirin and shoyu. Leave cover off and reduce until 1/3rd stock is gone. While the stock is reducing, make the spinach and noodles.

Spinach and Noodles:  In 2 Qts. H2O add a pinch of sal de mer a couple drops of  oil. When, H2O comes to boil, add I bag of baby spinach and blanch for no more than 2 minutes. Remove to strainer with a slotted spoon (but KEEP H2O.) Rinse under cold H2O until you can handle the spinach and squeeze H2O from it. Place on a paper towel. Add soba noodles to boiling H2O. Cook no more than 4 minutes (they should be al dente if they call it anything close to that in Japanese.) Strain. Add cold H2O to arrest cooking.

Chop the very end of the green end off 1 bunch rinsed scallions. Chop small pieces of green end and save these pieces. Remove root from white part and put these (you should have about 2: of white part) in the simmering dashi for about two minutes. Add spinach and noodles to dashi. Just before serving, add fried tofu (you want tofu to be still crispy…not soggy…yet to soak in the dashi. Serve with shoyu and top with furiake and green scallion pieces.

Mmmmm…Writing this up, makes me want more! I’m going back for seconds!

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4 comments

  1. That was one of my favorite things to eat when I lived in Japan!


  2. I made the blog! ❤

    Hey, so do you have to wait to eat it till after you take the photo?


    • Regan- I always do tests before the shot, with a stand-in bowl of the same size, so I can finish the dish right before shooting. The kitsune soba was actually steaming when I shot it. When I saw I had it the shot, I ate it! This dish is soooo tasty! A few more steps to it then most of my dishes, but worth it. Thanks for the shrooms (and all the other goodies in my Christmas Box!)


  3. Vegetarian dishes are tasty and of course very nutritious. ;

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