If you didn't know already, we have a sake club called Sake Gumi and it's awesome. Every month, we choose a theme, and the sakes reflect that theme. Sometimes the theme is a style of sake, sometime I choose how sakes pair with certain types of food; other times I choose sakes based on a specific region – like this month.
I am especially excited about this month's sake theme, Yamagata Prefecture, because it was granted Geographical Indication just last December. It's the first time a sake region has been granted G.I. status. Congratulations Yamagata! I especially like regional themes for the club because it sets the stage for exploring foods from specific prefectures.
Yamagata is famous for soba, so I was really excited to pair the sakes this month with soba. But I wanted to make the experience more deliberate by making a regional soba dish – Niku Soba which literally translates to "meat soba".
This cold soba dish incorporates pieces of chicken thigh and green onions. Sounds like heaven! The best part about this recipe is that the ingredients are attainable and preparation can be done before hand. It's a light, savory dish for the summer, that provides protein.
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thigh, cut into 1"L x 1/2"W pieces
4 tbsp shio koji
4 cups water
6 oz. sake
2 cups tsuyu
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
6 bunches of soba
1 cup green onions, chopped
1. Put the thighs into a ziplock bag with 4 tbsp of shio koji. Refrigerate overnight or at least 8-10 hours.
2. Take the thighs out of the bag, rinse and pat dry.
3. Cut the chicken into 1"L x 1/2"W pieces.
4. Transfer into a bowl.
5. Put chicken in a big pot and pour 5 cups of cold, tap water over it.
6. Turn on heat to medium-high. Skim the fat off the top as it comes to a simmer. Simmer for two minutes.
7. Add the tsuyu, soy sauce, sugar and sake and bring to a simmer. Turn the hot as soon as it simmers.
8. Transfer the liquid and chicken into a bowl that you can chill in the refrigerator. Chill until it cools down (about 2-3 hours).
9. Boil noodles for the amount of time stated on the package directions. Drain in a colander and transfer into a bowl of ice water. This will shock the noodles from cooking further.
9. Cut the green onions.
10. Plate with a handful of noodles (about 1.5 cups), then ladle two spoonfuls of broth over the soba, plus about 8 pieces of chicken. Garnish with green onions.
Remember to drink with a sake from Yamagata!