October 27, 2009

Soba Noodles with Arame and Shiitakes

I have lots of dried sea vegetables in my pantry (aka seaweed, but the term sea vegetables sounds tastier, don't you think?). But I often forget about them. This needs to change, because not only do sea veg add wonderful flavor to a variety of dishes, they are also incredibly nutritious: a rich source of iodine, as well as calcium, magnesium, and other trace minerals. My goal is to incorporate them into my meals several times each week.

Kombu (kelp) is a great addition to a pot of simmering beans; it adds minerals, a touch of salt (I still add salt later in the cooking process), and helps tenderize and make the beans easier to digest. There are also hijiki, wakame (a frequent addition to miso soup), nori (as seen in maki), arame, dulse, and many more. Arame is a great place to start, especially for those who are not used to the oceany taste of sea vegetables. It has a mild flavor and complements a wide variety of dishes, from stir-fries, salads, and soups, to noodle dishes and grain and bean combinations.

Thin Japanese soba noodles, made with wheat and buckwheat flours, are delicate and lighter than semolina or white flour pasta, and yet also more satisfying.

Soba Noodles with Arame and Shiitakes
This soba dish makes a nice vegetarian main course, and would also be great served with grilled or broiled fish, chicken, or tofu.
Serves 2 to 3 as a main course

2 Tbsp sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil (the flavors in the sauce are intense, so the taste of the XVOO, if you use it, will not come through)
1/2 lb green beans, stem ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, fibrous stems removed, caps sliced thinly
1/4 cup dried arame, soaked in water for 10 minutes and drained
4 oz soba noodles (or more, depending on how noodle-y you'd like the finished dish), cooked for 6 to 7 minutes in boiling salted water until al dente, and drained
2 Tbsp tamari or shoyu (traditionally fermented Japanese soy sauces)
2 Tbsp mirin (sweet rice wine; look for one without added sugar)
2 Tbsp Japanese rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp minced or grated fresh ginger (peeled)
1 Tbsp minced garlic (about 1 large or 2 small cloves)
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
Sesame seeds or gomasio (a Japanese condiment of crushed sesame seeds and sea salt) for garnish (optional)
  • Heat oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat, then add green beans and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add shiitakes and saute for another 5 minutes. Then add rehydrated arame and cook for a few minutes more.
  • In a bowl combine tamari or shoyu, mirin, rice wine vinegar, ginger, and garlic. Add mixture to vegetables. Cover and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, until sauce has reduced a bit and vegetables are tender.
  • Add cooked soba to pan, drizzle with toasted sesame oil, and toss well to combine.
  • Garnish each serving with sesame seeds or gomasio.


  1. I often add sea vegetables to my miso as well, it heightens the flavor and adds a contrasting texture. This noodle dish looks great!

  2. oh yummy i want to learn more Japanese cooking

  3. I always forget to add sea vegetables even though I keep a stock of them in my pantry. Thanks for reminding me to use them.

  4. I love soba noodles. Tofu would be a great addition (but then, what isn't better with tofu?). Yum!

  5. I just love all noodles - and soba is included. I also love anything cookoed with some sesame oil - the aorma is heavenly. This is a grand healthy dish!

  6. Thanks for the comments!

    FLB - I agree, miso soup just isn't the same without some sea veg! I like wakame or arame in mine. Do you have a favorite brand of miso?

    Chow and Chatter - I love Japanese and macrobiotic cooking too; these meals feel very light and cleansing. Stay tuned, I'll be posting more of these recipes soon.

    Megan - hope you're having fun cooking with your sea veg - please share your techniques with them. I'm getting a bit better at remembering to use mine.

    Vegetable Matter - so true, tofu would be a great addition! Tempeh, too.

    Claudia - I love toasted sesame oil, too - especially on noodles. Such a wonderful aroma and flavor.

  7. I just so love using soba noodles!! This dish looks excellent to me!

    MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM,...a real delight!