Yields 2 servings
Time: one hour
For the past few Christmases, my husband and I have created short wish lists on amazon.com, and just do all of our holiday shopping for each other directly online. Having no “surprises” on Christmas morning suits us fine, as we prefer surprising each other on spur-of-the-moment “non-things” throughout the year, like little mini daytrips or dinners out together. Jeff’s Christmas list is mainly comprised of books about presidents, historical fiction, beer and photography, while mine is mostly made up of cookbooks, tiny kitchen gadgets and packaged food not available in Boston, like Butler Soy Curls. So when I opened up a box on Christmas that contained six bags of this bizarre yet whole food item that I usually only treat myself to a few times in a year, I began to think of ways I could use it, and came up with this dish.
I originally thought I’d throw the soy curls into a romaine- or kale-based salad, or combine it with other vegetables to make a wrap (which would both work here), but ended up tossing it with soba and carrot ribbons to create a cold noodle salad. Whatever you combine it with, the real key here is the marinade and sauce components and how they work together: the fragrant curry powder on the soy curls mingles with fresh ginger, toasted sesame oil and cinnamon in the dressing to create a beautifully balanced and harmonious blend of spicy, sweet, dark and rich. Served slightly warm or cold, this is perfect for lunches or as a light dinner.
for the marinade
1/2 cup mirin
2-4 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
1 TB toasted sesame oil
2 TB soy sauce
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp to 1 TB sriracha, depending on your heat preference (can also be omitted altogether if you don’t like spicy)
for the sesame-cinnamon dressing
2 tsp peanut or canola oil
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 TB toasted sesame oil
3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 TB peanut butter
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB raw agave syrup
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 bundles of soba noodles
1 large carrot, peeled with a Y peeler to create thin ribbons
handful of unsalted peanuts
2-3 scallions, chopped (green tips only)
To reconstitute the soy curls, bring the broth to a low boil. Add in the soy curls and allow to come to a boil again. Cover with a lid, then turn off the heat. Allow it to sit on the burner for 10-15 minutes to reconstitute.
To make the marinade, combine all of the marinade ingredients into a shallow, wide dish (I used a large rectangular Pyrex casserole dish).
Once the soy curls are soft, drain them by pouring them into a large, fine-mesh sieve, gently pressing on the top to remove as much moisture as possible. Cut any large pieces into smaller pieces to make them all similar sized. Toss them in the marinade and allow them to absorb most of the liquid while you make your sesame-cinnamon dressing.
To make the sesame-cinnamon dressing, place the oil and ginger into a small saucepan over low heat. Allow to soften for a few minutes, taking care not to let them brown. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients and stir until smooth. Allow to simmer for a few minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator to cool.
To bake the soy curls, preheat your oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with a silpat. Transfer the marinated soy curls onto the silpat and bake for 20 minutes, stirring them around once during bake time. Increase the heat to 400, and bake for 20-25 minutes more, stirring once or twice to prevent burning. (During the last 10 minutes of the bake time, I removed the silpat and transferred the soy curls directly onto the baking sheet to finish, as some of the marinade itself began to scorch a bit on the silpat.) Allow to cool completely before using.
To assemble the dish, boil the soba noodles according to the package directions, then run under cold water and drain. Toss them with the carrot ribbons and soy curls, then drizzle with the cooled sauce, tossing again to coat. Garnish with the peanuts, chopped scallion tips, cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve immediately or place in the refrigerator to chill until ready to use.