Add a little asian to your cuisine this week. I actually followed this recipe almost to the exact, and wow, was it good. It is another Epicurious find courtesy of my cooking buddy, Tobi, who did all the prep work and some stirring.
To prepare the sauce combine 1/3 cup of water, 1/3 cup of soy sauce, 2 to 3 tsp. of Korean hot-pepper paste a.k.a. gochujang (or if you can’t find this like us, we added chili-garlic paste. Similar to Sriracha and next to it in the aisle but chunkier and less sugar in the ingredients.) and 1 Tbsp. of packed brown sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves and set aside for later.
Next, in a dry heavy skillet (not non-stick) brown 3 Tbsp. of sesame seeds and set aside. Be wary. They will brown quickly if you preheat the pan.
In a large skillet or, even better, a wok heat a 1/4 cup vegetable oil until it’s thoroughly hot and shimmers a little. Toss in 2 Tbsp. finely chopped and peeled ginger and 1 Tbsp. of finely chopped ginger. When the spices start to become fragrant (30 seconds) add in 10 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced. Cook these, stirring often, for 6 minutes, or until the shiitakes are tender and browned. Then incorporate 1 1/4 pounds of Napa cabbage, thinly sliced, about 8 cups. This will cook down a lot, so if it seems like a lot of cabbage, you have the right amount. Also add in 6 scallions thinly sliced, reserving about a tablespoon for garnish. Stirring to keep the vegetables from burning to the bottom, cook until the cabbage is moderately crispy, again about 6 minutes. When the vegetables are completely cooked, add in the sauce you stirred together in the beginning and set aside. For a little extra heat add in another tablespoon or two of the chili-garlic paste. Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
While you are preparing the mushrooms and cabbage, in a pot boil together salted water and 8 to 9 ounces of soba (buckwheat) noodles (found in the international aisle) with 1 cup of frozen shelled edamame (easier as they are already shelled) or a cup of shelled sugar snap peas with a few of the pods thrown in for extra crunch in each bite. Simmer until the noodles are tender and stick to the wall if tossed. Drain in a colander and rinse under cool water to stop the noodles from overcooking and remove any excess starch.
Transfer the noodle mixture to a large bowl and toss with the vegetable mixture and most of the sesame seeds. In individual bowls serve spattered with sesame seeds and scallions.
The salty detail of the soy sauce mixed with the spicy chili-garlic, ginger, garlic, and a little sweet from the brown sugar authenticates this typical asian dish. The shiitake mushrooms add a little slime and are great for your cardiovascular health. The soba noodles alone look and taste a little like a rubber band, but mixed with the right seasoning these are a great even carb. Another route would be whole wheat angel hair pasta. If you choose sugar snap peas, they will add an additional sweet and crunch, but the edamame is less sweet and more like a lima bean. You can’t add the pods to these, but they are plumper and have a fuller crunch then a small pea. As an overall course, this one will definitely excite your pallet.