The flavor that results from the combination of miso and toasted sesame seeds is something I have no words for. I made sesame miso soup once and to describe it as delicious would be an understatement. It is complex yet subtle. Never overpowering but, rather, deep and mysterious. I used the same sesame seeds and miso combination for this cha (green tea) soba with miso sauce that we had for lunch today — it is so good that Speedy (who is not a big fan of noodle dishes) had two helpings.
Cha soba is buckwheat noodles with green tea powder.
The Italians make green pasta by including pureed spinach in the pasta dough. The Japanese add green tea to the usual soba (buckwheat) noodles to flavor them and, in the process, turning them green.
Cha soba does not have an overwhelming taste of tea but, like green tea, the aroma and flavor are delicate and subdued.
Green tea soba is not inexpensive. Over a hundred pesos for 200 grams — that’s almost four times the price of regular pasta. But they are delicious. We had them for lunch today with a sauce that is a combination of miso and toasted sesame seeds.
These sweet pea pods went into the cha soba dish as well. I discovered them at the supermarket, my interest was piqued and I bought a hundred grams. More fibrous and stringy than our native sitsaro.
I also added oyster mushrooms. I thought that its more neutral flavor would go well with the cha soba and miso sauce.
Cha (Green Tea) Soba With Miso Sauce
- 150 grams cha (green tea) soba (green tea) soba
- 100 grams pork shoulder (must have some fat), thinly sliced and sprinkled lightly with salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable cooking oil
- 1/2 cup mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
- 1 carrot julienned
- 1 large white onion thinly sliced
- 50 grams sweet pea pods stringed
- 100 grams oyster mushrooms cut into halves or quarters
- a small bunch of bok choy cut into one-inch slices
- 1 heaping tablespoon miso paste dissolved in 1/4 cup of hot water
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Cook the noodles in plenty of boiling water for about five minutes. Drain. Dump into a bowl of iced water and leave them there while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Blanch the carrot, sweet pea pods and oyster mushrooms for about a minute, dump into iced water then drain.
Heat the vegetable oil in a pan. Add the pork and cook, stirring, until no longer pink. Pour in the mirin. Cook, uncovered, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork starts to render fat, about seven minutes. The pork will caramelize in the residual sugar of the wine so watch closely so that they don’t get burnt.
As soon as the pork starts to brown, add the sliced onion and bok choy. Stir fry for about thirty seconds then pour in the miso paste mixture. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the delicious bits of caramelized goodness stuck there.
As soon as the mixture bubbles, turn off the heat. Add the carrot, pea pods and oyster mushrooms. Toss. Taste. Add salt and pepper, as needed.
Drain the noodles. Toss with the pork and vegetables. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve the cha soba with miso sauce.