Different types of noodles are a healthy option for iftar. We all get tired of the same fried food after some time. One of my most favourite summer noodle dishes is Zaru soba. This is a cold Japanese noodle dish, which I fell in love with during my visit to Tokyo. It's perfect for the summer, as it is served cold. It can be prepared well ahead of time, which is very convenient during Ramadan.
My second noodle dish is a vegetable lo mein. It has lots of vegetables, tofu and nuts, which makes it a complete meal and you don't need anything else to go with it.
(For 1 serving)
For the mentsuyu (noodle soup base):
2 tbsp mirin (see Note 1)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup dashi (see Note 2)
1/2 tsp sugar
First mix the ingredients for the mentsuyu. Bring to a boil and then simmer for two to three minutes. Take it off the heat and let it cool down. Once cooled, you can keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Boil the soba noodles. Once cooked, strain the noodles and rinse it under running cold water to get rid of extra starch.
Set aside and keep it cold until you are ready to serve. You can keep it soaked in iced water and shake off the extra water before serving.
To serve, pour the Mentsuyu we made earlier in a small bowl. Serve wasabi on the side. Serve the soba noodle in a separate plate and sprinkle with shredded nori if you like.
To eat, mix the wasabi with the mentsuyu. With a chopstick or a fork, dip the noodle in the mentsuyu and enjoy.
Typically, Zaru soba is served with tempura on the side. During iftar, we usually already have piyaju, beguni and other crispy, fried items, which will go well with Zaru soba.
Tip: You can find the Japanese ingredients at Ko Mart in Banani.
Note 1: Mirin has a sweet-tangy flavour. You can substitute mirin with 2tbsp rice wine vinegar mixed with 1tbsp sugar. You can get rice wine vinegar at Gourmet Bazaar and Dhali in Gulshan 2
Note 2: Traditional Japanese dashi, which means stock, is a blend of a number of different ingredients like mushrooms, dried seaweed/kelp and dried baby sardines. You can make your own substitute by mixing together equal parts vegetable and seafood stock cubes.
Vegetable Lo Mein
1 packet of any kind of noodles you like
1 medium size block of tofu, cubed
1 small broccoli, chopped
1 small carrot, sliced
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 small onion, sliced
2 dried chillies, sliced
1/4 cup toasted cashew nuts
For the sauce:
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp Chinese chilli sauce
1 chicken cube
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup water.
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns (optional)
In a frying pan, heat two tablespoons of oil and fry the tofu cubes until light brown.
If you are using Sichuan peppercorns, toast them in a dry pan and grind them.
Mix all the ingredients for the sauce. Boil the noodles as per packet instructions.
In a wok, heat 1/4 cup oil over high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and chilli. Fry for two minutes, then add the carrot. Stir fry until tender. Splash a little water as needed, then add the broccoli. Cook for one minute and add the tofu.
Now add the sauce mixture. Let it come to a boil. Now add the noodles and mix well. Sprinkle the Sichuan pepper powder.
Serve hot, garnished with toasted cashew nuts.
Note: You can use any seasonal vegetable you have