Sunday, April 6, 2014

Soba Noodle and Pork Steak with Fresh Asian Vegetables

Soba noodles are Japanese noodles made with buckwheat flour.  From what I have heard, people either really like soba noodles or they really don't like them.  I'd never tried them, but when at an ethnic market, I found a package and thought it would be an interesting experiment! 

That soba noodle package has been patiently resting on the pantry shelf for several months now, and I decided that it was time to try cooking them - no more waiting for the perfect recipe to come up!  As I was rummaging around the kitchen, I also found a package of pork steaks in the freezer that needed to be used up, and thought it would be interesting to combine the two to create a dish.  And then I needed a sauce or topping to bring it all together....

And so, 'Soba Noodle and Pork Steak with Fresh Asian Vegetables' was born.  It actually turned out really, really good (I was surprised that Charlie liked it so much!).  I cooked the soba noodles simply, brined the pork steak for a few hours, and created an Asian vegetable topping that tied everything together. 

By the way, the soba noodles were quite tasty.  They definitely had a whole-wheat-pasta-type-flavor, but I also thought they had a stronger, nuttier taste.  We loved them and I definitely plan to keep experimenting with soba noodles!  

Soba Noodle and Pork Steak with Fresh Asian Vegetables

for the pork steak

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • sprinkling Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 pork steaks, thawed (I think pork chops might work fine as well, though I didn't try it)

for the Asian Vegetable Topping
  • 1 finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
  • 2 - 4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (depending on taste)
  • squeeze of 1/2 tangerine (or 2 tablespoons orange juice)
  • squeeze of 1/2 lime (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned roasted garlic rice vinegar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Thai sweet chili sauce (depending on hotness)

For the soba noodles
  • 1/2 package buckwheat soba noodles
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 quarts boiling water

For the pork steak: Place salt, sugar, water and seasoning in a gallon bag.  Seal and swish around to dissolve salt and sugar.  Add pork steaks.  Place in refrigerator for about 4 hours. When you are ready to put the dish together, heat a skillet over medium to high heat.  Pan fry the pork steaks for about 8 minutes on each side, or until the internal temperature comes to 140 degrees F.  Remove to platter, cover with tin foil and let rest until you are ready to thinly slice and eat. 

For Asian Vegetable Topping: Stir all topping ingredients together in a bowl.  Let sit in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours to allow flavors to meld.

For soba noodles: Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a medium sized pot with the kosher salt.
When water reaches a rolling boil, add noodles and stir well.  As it begins to boil over, add one cup of cold water and stir.  As it begins to boil over again, turn off the heat.  This will take approximately 7 or 8 minutes.  Try a noodle - you want them to be firm-tender (or al dente) - not mushyIf they are still too firm, let them sit in the hot water for a minute until they are good.  Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. I like to stir in a dash of olive oil while the noodles are in the sieve - it helps keep them from sticking together. 

To put it all together: You can serve this however you wish.  For presentation, I placed a pile of soba noodles at one end of a plate, thinly sliced the pork steak and arranged the topping over the whole thing.  However, when we went to eat it, we stirred it all together anyways.  If you would like, just stir together the soba noodles, the vegetables and the thinly sliced pork steak in a bowl and serve it that way. 

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