YUMEKATARI: buckwheat soba with butterfly pea and mushroom broths

I have always wanted to make my own soba noodles, because it looks really cool and I just love being able to make my own pasta or dough from scratch. The trick behind buckwheat flour (besides the fact that I had to go to five different grocery stores to procure it, so thank you Wholefoods for being the reliable shop in this case), is that it lacks gluten. For those of you who somehow do not know this, gluten is what binds doughs and batters together. What that means is that if you bake with gluten, your cakes or doughs will not be as likely to collapse or implode in the oven because the gluten is giving it structure and a crumb. When you are making things without gluten, unless there is an appropriate substitute, you will fail. Like epically. Typically, buckwheat soba is made with 80% buckwheat flour and 20% normal to avoid this issue. Even then, the dough tends to be crumbly anyways, so I opted to include xanthan gum in mine (one of the aforementioned gluten substitutes) to guarantee that the dough binds.

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The name inspiration, YUMEKATARI, came from a song of the same name. In Japanese, it essentially means “dreamer” or “conversing dreams”, so I wanted to make a dish that captures the idea of interacting and colors mingling. And of course, that meant that I had to use the butterfly pea tea, which luckily, does actually have really vegetal qualities to it. For the overall dish, it is homemade buckwheat soba with miso-mushroom dashi, snap peas, butterfly pea poached lotus root and ponzu, and roasted mushrooms. With the peas, they have such a playful and fun appearance, being these little spheres that are peaking out from their pod, while the lotus root, having that circular shape and the holes, it has a really whimsical look as well, all of which just add up to this noodle dish with a huge fantasy element to it.

For the noodles:
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour + more for dusting
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/3 cup cold water
a pinch of salt

Sift together your dry ingredients and form a well. Pour in the water and knead into a dough. Pour onto a floured surface and roll out to about 1/16th inch thickness. Cut or use a noodle cutter on a pasta roller to cut into noodles. Boil in salted water for 45 seconds.

For the mushrooms:
Assorted wild mushrooms (I used king oyster and maitake for mine)

Roast the mushrooms (seasoned with salt and a tiny bit of oil) in a pan at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Finish in a hot pan to caramelize them.

For the miso-mushroom dashi:
1/4 cup miso paste
1/4 cup kombu
1/3 cup dried shiitake mushrooms

Bring a pot of water mixed with all of the ingredients into a simmer. Once mushrooms and kombu have softened considerably, strain, pressing to release as much liquid as possible. Pass dashi through a strainer as well to remove any additional solids from the kombu or shiitakes. Taste and salt the broth accordingly. Chill down.

For the snap peas:

Blanch the snap peas in salted water for 45 seconds. Quickly place into a bowl of ice to shock them. Once room temperature or colder, soak into the cold mushroom dashi. When it comes to serving, using a paring knife, carefully slit open the pea pods to reveal the peas inside.

For the butterfly pea ponzu:
Butterfly pea flowers

In a pot of water, add butterfly pea flowers. Simmer until the liquid reaches a deep blue, then add in the mirin. Strain and season with salt. It should be sour and salty with a fragrant finish. Chill down.

For the lotus root:

Thinly slice a peeled lotus root (I would recommend using a mandolin but a knife will do just fine). Poach in salted water for 1 minute then strain. Place into the cold ponzu and allow it to soak for at least 20 minutes to absorb that blue color.

To assemble:
In a bowl, start with the noodles, then garnish with the mushrooms, peas, and lotus root. Place the two sauces, the dashi and ponzu, into two bowls to serve.

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