I know nobody cares what I had for dinner today, because outside is a wondrous, fairytale snowland that, if you’re lucky, means you didn’t have to go to work and you could spend the day making snowmen and taking pictures of improbably snowy things. Or just watching it snow. I don’t know about you, but I find that snow never gets boring. Between watching it snow and speculating about how long it might snow and what the implications of that might be, you’ve got a whole day’s entertainment figured out.
Anyway, if you did happen to be snowed in and were completely unable to get to the shops, this is the kind of thing you might want to make yourself to eat from the ingredients of your store cupboard. See the tenuous link I clawed in there? And if you don’t have these things in your store cupboard, you might want to stock up now, just in case. It’s almost difficult to believe that something so satisfying can be made from so few ingredients in such little time, but trust me, I’ve made it twice and it is. It’s always worth having one of those packets of dried mushrooms around as they lend an intense flavour that elevates many a dish; when matched with the density of soy and buckwheat you have something toothsome and pure-feeling – bolstering, Nigella calls it.
Braised shitake mushrooms with soba noodles Serves 1
This isn’t a huge portion, so if you’re not eating it with other things you could increase the weight of noodles and just reduce the sauce slightly less.
8 or more dried shitake mushrooms (probably about 10-15g)
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sake
3 tbsp Japanese soy sauce
4 tbsp mirin
80g soba noodles
few drops toasted sesame oil
fresh coriander (optional)
Soak the mushrooms in hot water for about 30 minutes, then squeeze and drain, reserving around 100ml of the soaking water.
Heat the oil in a small frying pan and stir fry the mushrooms for 2 minutes. Mix the sake, mirin, and 2 tbsp of the soy sauce with the mushroom-soaking water and add to the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for around 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated to give a concentrated sauce. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to packet instructions (probably about 4 minutes), drain and rinse in cold water to stop them sticking. Drain again and toss with the remaining soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil. Put in a noodle bowl and pour over the mushrooms. You can add a drop more sesame oil and some fresh coriander if liked.
From Nigella Lawson’s ‘How To Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food’.