A gleaming school of herring greeted me upon my arrival on U.S. shores yesterday. After landing from Tokyo, my first errand after dropping off my bags at home was a visit to my local fish monger (Monterey Fish Market). Winter is a cornucopia of goodies for seafood. Crabs, oysters, salmon roe and herring are just some of what I look forward to every winter.
My first taste of nishin soba (herring over buckwheat noodles) was in its native Kyoto back in 2001. The sweet and tender herring atop a tangle of soba in a hot tsuyu broth is the perfect compliment to a cold day. After a 10-day eating marathon in Tokyo over the holidays, a bowl of nishin soba was cleansing and comforting. Being back in my kitchen was a pleasure with this fresh catch.
I'll show you how to make nishin soba below, but stayed tuned next week for a second bonus recipe that compliments this dish.
4 whole, uncleaned herring
2 cups water
1/2 cup sake
3 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup mirin
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 bunches of soba
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
3 cups dashi
1. Remove scales from fish by running the dull side of a paring knife from tail to head. Rinse the fish as you remove the scales.
2. Clean the insides of the fish.
SAVE the egg or sperm sacs. We will use these for a recipe I'll post next week!
3. Filet the fish.
4. Blanch the filets. Remove from boiling water and rinse lightly with water.
5. Pour the water and sake into a pot and put the filets in the solution.
6. Add the sugar mirin and soy sauce to the pot and heat on the lowest possible setting on your stove. Add the shiitake.
7. Keep the pot on low heat for atleast 20 minutes. The herring should soak up the soy sauce solution. You can keep the pot on low heat for up to 40 minutes, but just make sure the filets don't fall apart.
8. While the filets are simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the soba. Boil for 4 minutes.
9. Once the 4 minutes are up, strain the noodles and place in ice, cold water.
10. Heat the tsuyu (1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup mirin, 3 cups dashi) until it comes to a rolling boil.
11. Place noodles into bowls, add tsuyu and top with the herring and shiitake.
Herring is so affordable and so fresh during these cold winter months, it's a shame not to take advantage of them. Stay tuned next week for a simple recipe that will utilize the egg and semen sacs!!!