It was recently announced that Tokyo, Japan will be the home of the Summer 2020 Olympics. Who doesn’t love Japanese food? From Teriyaki to Tuna Tartare, there’s something for everyone to nosh. Sushi is the thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think of Japanese food, but Japanese cuisine is full of bold flavors and cooked foods.
Yakitori is bamboo skewers of meat and vegetables grilled over hot coals to perfection. Shabu-shabu restaurants have diners cook thin slices of beef with their chopsticks in a pot of boiling water in front of them. And Tonkatsu is a deep-fried pork cutlet.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I want the flavors of the far east without the fat, so I cook Japanese food at home and try to lighten it up. It can be intimidating trying to recreate flavors with unfamiliar ingredients and foreign cooking techniques so I like to start out with the basics. In other words, something that’s incredibly difficult for me to mess up.
While none of us will ever Jiro Ono, there are simpler recipes you can start with to bring the taste of Tokyo to your kitchen. Celebrity chef, Candice Kumai has a simple recipe for Spicy Soba Noodles that I love. It will please your palate in the seven years before the Tokyo summer games, and will keep your figure svelte.
Candice Kumai’s Spicy Peanut Soba Noodles
1 cup quartered and thinly sliced Japanese eggplant
1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 (8 oz) package soba noodles
1 red bell pepper seeded and thinly sliced
1 cup arugula/ or mizuna greens
2 tablespoons crushed peanuts (optional)
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
1 teaspoon honey
To Make The Noodles
1) Saute the eggplant over medium heat in the sesame oil and soy sauce until just tender.
2) Cook the soba noodles as directed on the package. Strain and rinse under cool water. Set aside.
To Make the Vinaigrette
While the soba is cooking, mix all the vinaigrette ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
1) In the same large mixing bowl, gently toss the cooled soba noodles in the vinaigrette, then add the eggplant, red pepper, and arugula.
2) Coat all of the noodles well and serve with tongs.
3) Top with crushed peanuts or Thai basil if desired