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Sara Forte's Soba Bowls with Poached Salmon

Soba bowls with salmon

I am chicken with no head, hear me roar. The washing machine just flooded the bathroom, I haven't started packing yet for a flight to London that leaves less than three hours from now and I still need to do about 67 things including mopping the bathroom between now and then, so forgive me for throwing this recipe at you so unceremoniously, but it's been sitting in my drafts folder for too long already and I just couldn't make it wait any longer.

Now: Since I discovered these soba bowls with poached salmon (from Sara's The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook), I have made them more times than I can count and if a week goes by without them on the cooking plan, Max starts to get very itchy and plaintive. This is high praise indeed; I find it difficult to make the same recipes over and over again when there are so many other delicious things to discover. Don't you? But these lovely things are are silly easy, fantastically delicious, and even virtuous, if that's your thing, and I'm happy to make them every week. Oooh, I love them.

The preparation seems a little fussy at first. You need three different cooking vessels: a pot for poaching the salmon, a pot for the soba noodles and a roasting pan for the broccoli. You also need a serving bowl that you mix the dressing in. But as long as you have a loving (or electric) dishwasher, this shouldn't dissuade you, because all these little steps are worth the trouble. And if you are even just mildly interested in Asian cooking, you probably have all the ingredients required. In fact, for us, the salmon is the most difficult thing on the ingredient list to source. (Sara's original recipe has you use green tea for the poaching liquid, but I skip that step because I never have any green tea bags lying around the house and I'm too cheap to use my fancy loose green tea for this.)

My favorite part is spangling the top of each serving plate with toasted sesame seeds from a little plastic container I bought a few months ago from a Japanese shop. It sort of feels like one of those old-school green Parmesan cans, but instead of a questionable cheese product, out come toasted sesame seeds with a flick of the wrist. Happiness!

And that's that! Off I go.

Sara Forte's Soba Bowls with Poached Salmon
From The Sprouted Kitchen
Serves 4

3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons agave nectar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 bunch broccoli
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon peppercorns
½ cup mirin or dry white wine
1¼ pound (preferably wild) salmon fillet
1 (9.5-ounce) package soba noodles
4 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup white or black sesame seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, tahini, agave nectar, lime zest and juice, tamari, and grated ginger until smooth. Set aside.

3. Cut the broccoli into small florets, including some of the stems. Toss the broccoli in a bowl with the olive oil, garlic, and salt and then spread out on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven.

4. In a saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a gentle simmer. Add the peppercorns and mirin to the water. Gently slide in the salmon, skin side down. Cover and cook until the salmon is just barely cooked in the middle, 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. If in doubt, it’s better to undercook the salmon a bit than overcook it. Remove the salmon to a plate, loosely cover with foil and set aside.

5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the soba noodles according to package instructions or until al dente.

6. While the noodles cook, chop the roasted broccoli. Drain the noodles. In a large bowl, toss together the warm noodles, broccoli, dressing, green onions, and half the cilantro. Divide the noodles among four bowls, top with a portion of the salmon, and sprinkle the remaining cilantro and the sesame seeds on top. Serve immediately.