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Clean Eating for the New Year: UnRamen

The long-suffering Mr. T and I spent the last night of our week-long New England Christmas tour at the WonderTwins’ Wonderlair up in northern Vermont. While they were, as always, double wonderful, their place left me wondering how they’ve managed to avoid contracting some weird infection from the bathmat or getting scurvy since ramen and beer appeared to be the only things in their kitchen. And having that many litter boxes per square foot HAS to violate the Geneva Conventions. In short, it was gross. Sometimes I wonder if we’re really related. And then I see pictures of us in all in a row making the same expression with the same face and I think, “dammit, there’s no escaping THAT one.”

In ANY event, I was inspired to rustle up this tasty, slurpy, healthy bowl of noodles I’m calling UnRamen in “honor” of the Wonderlair’s rather lacking larder. To its credit, it doesn’t come in a styrofoam cup nor does it provide a badillion times your daily recommended amount of sodium. *ahem* While this is kind of Japanese-y, I’ve no doubt it’s totally inauthentic in execution and composition. Whatever. It was really good and took me from “oh crap I haven’t gone grocery shopping since last YEAR, what the hell-ass am I going to make for dinner” to the table in 15 minutes. And, even though it was cobbled together on the quick, it will be going into heavy rotation this winter–it’s that good.

This is one goes out to my Wondertwins (yes, I’m asking you to buy LIMA BEANS, deal with it); and to Sam, who wanted veggie things; and to Laura, who has probably given up all hope of non-sweets and stopped reading altogether.

Obviously, this is one of those flexible things that you can fiddle with based on your supplies and inclinations. I didn’t have edamame, so I used lima beans (which I might actually prefer here anyway). Want it to be totally veggie-friendly? Leave out the dashi powder. Don’t like lemon? No zest. No soba? Use regular noodles–but their brown buckwheaty-ness makes this especially virtuous and tasty.

Yield: 2-3 servings

2 bundles soba noodles

1 tsp vegetable oil
4 oz mushrooms (shiitake or crimini are nice, but buttons will do)
1 shallot
3 c water
1 1/2 tsp dashi powder (optional)
1/4 c dried wakame
1 c frozen lima beans or edamame
~ 1 tbs tamari soy sauce
2 tbs white miso
~ 1 tbs lemon zest (Microplaned)
beni shouga (or other pickled ginger) to garnish

Put a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil.

While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the soup/topping. Wipe mushrooms clean and slice thinly. Halve and peel the shallot. Slice thinly. In a medium saucepan, bring the oil to a shimmer over high heat and add the mushrooms. Toss energetically until they give up their liquid, about 2-3 minutes. (If they’re not squeaking in agony, the heat’s not high enough.) Add the shallot and cook a minute more, till they’re translucent. Add the water and dashi powder. Bring to a simmer, stirring to ensure the dashi powder dissolves completely. Add the wakame and beans and cook till the beans are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Turn heat as low as possible and add the soy sauce, miso, and lemon zest. Stir to combine and correct seasonings to taste.

Once the water boils, cook the noodles according to the instructions (or, if your soba only came in Japanese, about 4-5 minutes at a rolling boil, till it just tastes done and there’s no pale core to the noodle). Drain the noodles and divide between bowls. Ladle the soup mixture over and sprinkle with pickled ginger to taste. Devour with an aura of superior virtuosity.

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