Soba Noodles with Bok Choy and Tahini
When I got my first bundle of bok choy from my CSA, I started searching around for new ways to prepare this Asian green. I must admit, I’ve been getting a wee bit tired of garlic-sauteed greens and rice, so I wanted something unique. Unfortunately, the Great Google turned up many, many of the same recipe: bok choy sauteed or steamed, and seasoned with toasted sesame oil and soy sauce, with some ginger thrown in for extra flavor. Of course, that sounds delicious, and I made it once or twice, but when I wanted to branch out, it took me awhile to find something different.
I’m glad I searched so diligently, because this Tahini sauce has become one of my new favorites. It’s reminiscent of a peanut sauce, but a little more bitter. It’s easy as heck, but could probably be fancied up, too. And it is filling and delicious.
Admittedly, the greens in this meal are, yes, sauteed. My skillet is becoming intimately familiar with leafy greens these days. But they are tossed with noodles in this thick, flavorful sauce and become less of the starring show in the meal, and more of a bright accent.
This recipe was originally published in The Washington Post, and was created by a chef named Robin Robertson who wanted a pasta dish that wasn’t Italian. Well, this is certainly not Italian. The original recipe uses udon noodles, which I didn’t have. It also calls for fresh ginger, which I didn’t have, and I cut the amount of oil suggested by kind of a lot, because it seemed like overkill. I also took the lazy person’s way out with this, and skipped toasting the sesame seeds. My version is a quick weeknight dinner, but with a few other steps it could be quite an impressive thing to serve to others.
I used Wild Yam Buckwheat soba noodles that I bought ages ago at the Fairway market in Brooklyn. This recipe used up the last of them, and I suspect they might be hard to find here in Walla Walla. But this recipe would be fantastic with a simple whole wheat spaghetti, and obviously with the udon noodles originally suggested.
Soba Noodles with Bok Choy and Tahini
Adapted from The Washington Post
- about 1/4 of a package of noodles (soba, udon, or whole wheat spaghetti, or whatever else you fancy trying)
- 2-3 Tablespoons tahini
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- about 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
- 1 Tablespoon safflower or canola oil
- 2-3 small heads of baby bok choy, rinsed and separated
- a small handful of chopped green onions
- about 1/2 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
Put a pot of water on to boil for the noodles. Meanwhile, mix the tahini, soy sauce, lemon juice, ginger, and water together until the mixture is well blended. (If you’re feeling fancy, you might want to throw in some garlic and chopped jalapenos, and process in a food processor to blend well). The ingredient measurements here are rough: just mix together and taste until the blend seems right to you. The sauce will be very thin, but it thickens up in the skillet, so don’t worry.
Once the water is boiling, add your noodles. While they cook, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the bok choy and the green onions. Saute, stirring frequently (tongs work great for this!), until the bok choy is soft and cooked through. Lower the heat under the skillet to medium-low. Drain the noodles, toss them with some toasted sesame oil, and add them to the skillet. Add the the tahini sauce, and stir everything well, until the sauce thickens and coats everything completely.
If you feel fancy, garnish with some sesame seeds, and perhaps some cilantro or more green onions. This makes about two servings, and would probably also be pretty delicious served cool or at room temperature. You could probably add in some tofu to up the protein. In fact, now that I’ve discovered this variation on my much-beloved peanut sauce, I can’t wait to try it with all kinds of things. Score one for a fast and easy weeknight dinner that’s a little out of the ordinary.