Common scenario: just when I'm about to relax and enjoy my food, Yusuf starts to wail. Next thing you know, my meal is forgotten and I get stuck in this endless cycle of feeding, cleaning, bathing, pacifying and all the other tasks that come with having a baby. On top of that, there's the housework and let's not forget, the older kids.
Needless to say, I am all for shortcuts, and am thankful for all the things that make my life a little easier. For instance, the ready-made products stashed in my kitchen cabinet.There are times when you desperately want to prepare a meal quickly without any hassle and I seem to be having those moments a lot lately.
Which brings us to my latest discovery: Ninben Tsuyunomoto. It's bottled tsuyu made for lazy homecooks such as yours truly.
For those who don't know, Tsuyu is the soup base or dipping sauce for noodles and other Japanese dishes like tempura. Its common ingredients are dashi (broth or stock made of dried kelp and fish), soy sauce and mirin (japanese rice wine).
Reasons I love this product (other than the taste).
1. Unlike most tsuyus available in the market, this one does not contain mirin, so it's great for those who do not consume alcohol.
2. It's triple concentrated and has to be diluted with water (read: cost effective)
3. Easy to prepare- just add water to the sauce.
What I like to use it for is as a dipping sauce for cold soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles), especially when the weather is insufferably hot... like it is now.
To make this dish , what you need to do first is cook the noodles. Soba noodles are usually sold in packages consisting of 3-4 bundles per pack.Unless you're greedy, a bundle is usually enough to serve 1 person.
Put the noodles in a pot of boiling water and boil them until they are completely cooked, post al dente. Once cooked, transfer the noodles to a colander/ strainer in the sink to drain out the water. Then, place the colander under cold running water and vigorously rub the noodles. This is to get rid of the extra starch and also the floury taste. Once this is done (You'll know it's done when the water that runs through the colander is no longer cloudy), drain the noodles, and serve them on a plate/platter/ tray (whatever you have) ideally with some ice cubes (the operative word here being COLD soba).
Now, the sauce. What you do is pour a bit of sauce into a small bowl, about 3 tablespoons per person. Mix it with cold water and you're good to go. The ratio for the dipping sauce is 1 part Ninben tsuyu to be thinned out with 3 parts of water (1:3). But of course this is just a general guideline. Just like in any other recipes, let your taste decide. Add more or less water according to your liking.
As condiments, you can add strips of seaweed or if you don't have that, spring onions will do. To eat , just take a small portion of the noodles using a pair of chopsticks, dip in the sauce and and slurp them. Yes, I said slurp. Japanese style.
There you have it. Cold soba with dipping sauce. Quick, simple, and easy.