I'm a soba noodle fanatic. In Japan, the noodles are often served as is with a dipping sauce of soy, dashi, and scallions. Why not, I wondered, use them in soup? Here's the result of my self-interrogation, a great soup, enhanced with sake, and served with a cool cucumber salad.
This makes a great — and healthy — light lunch or first course.
*Note: If you have a mandoline, use it to slice the cucumbers.
To Drink: Chilled Ty Ku Sake Black
Fill a large bowl with water and add ice. Bring a medium-sized stockpot or soup pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the noodles until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and transfer to the bowl. When the noodles are cold, drain well and set aside.
Return the pot to the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the canola oil and swirl to coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, add the onions, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and sauté, stirring once, until caramelized, 10-12 minutes.
Add the sake, and scrape the bottom of the pan to incorporate the brown bits, about 30 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, sesame oil, and stock and bring to a simmer. Add the noodles and heat through.
Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl combine the wasabi, water, remaining soy sauce, and remaining canola oil. Add the cucumber, toss, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add half of the sesame seeds and toss.
Divide the soup among 4 soup plates. Make a mound of the noodles in each, top with the cucumber salad, garnish with the remaining sesame seeds, and serve.