Recipe: Pork Rei-Shabu with Soba

Often when I’m looking for a quick and healthy meal, I reach for soba.  Soba is a Japanese buckwheat noodle that, in addition to being a delicious accompaniment to a variety of dishes, is an amazing superfood as well.  It’s been known to enhance metabolism and even lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well. You can think of it as a healthier alternative to Italian pastas or white rice but almost equally filling. This next recipe I’m sharing with you is one of my favorite ways to eat soba.  Especially in the summertime, cold soba topped with pork rei-shabu (cold shabu shabu), mixed veggies and a sesame ginger sauce is the perfect way to keep cool while having a satisfying meal.

First, let’s talk about the dipping sauce. Here are two sauces that I like to use. The one on the left is a sesame sauce used for shabu shabu and the one on the right is a tsuyu soba sauce. If you don’t want to buy both, you can use one or the other.

Pork Rei-Shabu with Soba

To make my dipping sauce, I took the “Sandra Lee approach” and spruced up store-bought tsuyu soba sauce but you can certainly make your own.  To punch up store-bought soba sauce, I first made a homemade sesame paste starting with some freshly grated ginger.

Pork Rei-Shabu with Soba - ginger

Next, toast your sesame seeds until they are warm and fragrant.  While they are still warm, pour them into a suribachi bowl (a Japanese-style mortar) and grind them up with your surikogi (the pestle) until the sesame seeds look like this.  If you don’t have a suribachi and surikogi, you can use a coffee grinder or food processor.  Add just a touch of sesame oil to moisten and grind again.

Pork Rei-Shabu with Soba1

Add a dash of soba sauce to the ground sesame in the suribachi and keep grinding until it becomes a creamy paste.  Add extra soba sauce as needed.  The sesame paste is now ready to go.  To make the dipping sauce, in a separate bowl mix together the sesame paste, ginger and extra tsuyu soba sauce to taste.

Next, prepare your choice of toppings.  Here I used kimchi, pea shoots, sliced red onion, cucumber and red radish (not shown), but really, anything goes well in this dish. Broccoli, nori (dried seaweed) and edamame would be great too.

Pork Rei-Shabu with Soba3

Now grab your soba and cook it in a large pot of boiling water until al dente.

Pork Rei-Shabu with Soba4

Remove the cooked soba and strain but reserve the liquid in the pot.  Use the hot liquid to blanch the slices of thinly sliced pork until they turn white and are cooked through. Set aside.

Now you’re ready to put everything together.  Place the cooked soba in a bowl and top with your choice of vegetables.

Pork Rei-Shabu with Soba5

Dip each bite into the sauce and enjoy!

Pork Rei-Shabu with Soba6

Pork Rei-Shabu with Soba:
Prep time: 15 min | Cook time: 15 min | Serves: 2

Adapted from Cooking with Dog

soba noodles (2 servings)
1 tsp sesame oil

For the dipping sauce:
2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds,
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup soba noodle soup base, plus more to make the sesame paste
2 tsp ginger root, grated

For the toppings:
thinly sliced pork, shabu shabu style (6 or more slices); available at Asian supermarkets
1/2 large cucumber, sliced
red onion, thinly sliced
pea shoots or radish sprouts

1.  Toast the white sesame seeds in a pan over low heat.  When warmed and fragrant, grind up to a powder/paste.  The sesame will release it’s own oils when ground.  Add the sesame oil to moisten and then grind again.  Add small amounts of soba sauce to the sesame paste and keep grinding until becomes smooth.  Combine 1/2 cup soba sauce, grated ginger and a 2 teaspoons of the sesame paste mixture and refrigerate to keep cold.

2.  Cook the soba in boiling water until al dente.  Remove the cooked soba but preserve the hot water in the pot.  Cook the pork slices in the hot water until the pork turns white.

3.  Place the soba noodles in a bowl and drizzle in 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil for each portion and mix.  Top each portion with choice of vegetables and pork.  Separate the dipping sauce into two small bowls and serve with the soba.

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