Japanese Chuka Soba (low-amine, soy-free, (gluten-free with 100% buckwheat))
Chuka Soba is a Japanese summer noodle dish typically made with fresh ramen, but I use soba (buckwheat noodles) noodles because fresh ramen is not easily available here. Being Japanese, I ate a lot of it growing up. Since my revelations with amine allergies, I had assumed it was not something I would be able to eat anymore. I made short work of that idea tonight, by recreating a low-amine Chuka Soba that was delicious and satisfying. Most of this dish is simple prep work – anyone that can operate a chef knife and cutting board can make it, but the more hands prepping, the faster it will go. You are welcome to substitute any of the vegetables with other low-amine vegetables, such as corn, if desired.
Dinner tonight? Chuka soba. Many ingredients, but very little work.
Cooking Tip: To make short work of julienning the ingredients, use a mandoline on a thicker setting, then cut the strips into matchsticks and down to size (about 1 1/2 inches long).
3 bundles buckwheat soba noodles (100% buckwheat if you need gluten-free. Buy online if needed – they can be hard to find.)
1/3 English cucumber, seeds removed and julienned
1 baby bok choy
4 Tbsp daikon radish, grated
2 Tbsp grated ginger
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 small zucchini, julienned
10 green beans, blanched and sliced diagonally into 2″ segments
1/4 whole bamboo shoot, julienned
1/2 carrot, julienned
4 shiso (beefsteak) leaves
4 fresh water chestnuts
10 pieces very thinly sliced beef (beef sliced for hot pots is ideal)
1/2 tsp sugar
Marinade for Cucumber:
2 Tbsp water
2/3 tsp apple juice
1/8 tsp ascorbic acid
Sauce for Chuka Soba:
5 Tbsp water
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp apple juice
1 tsp ascorbic acid
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp chili oil
1/4 tsp salt
- Marinate julienned cucumber in a bowl with the cucumber marinade (water, apple juice, ascorbic acid).
- Peel water chestnuts and slice. You can use canned if fresh are unavailable, but fresh water chestnuts are better in flavor by leaps and bounds.
Fresh, unpeeled water chestnuts
- Blanche green beans. While blanching, carefully dip the white parts of the bok choy into the boiling water to give them a light cooking through.
- Prep all vegetables and arrange on a large plate or cutting board.
Chuka Soba ingredients, prepared. Clockwise from top left: Bamboo shoots, green beans, bok choy, grated daikon radish, grated ginger, green onions, cucumber, egg, water chestnuts, carrot, shiso leaf, beef, and zucchini.
- Beat together 2 eggs and 1/2 tsp sugar. In a large pan, on medium low, pour just enough to make a thin crepe out of the egg. Flip, if possible. Set egg “crepe” aside on a plate, and repeat until all the egg is gone.
Egg “crepes” for Chuka Soba
- Roll stack of egg “crepes” up and slice them thinly. Set aside.
- In a non-stick pan on high heat, with a touch of butter or oil, cook beef (I cooked mine two slices at a time, only 5-7 seconds per slice) till just cooked through, or to desired doneness. When all beef is done, slice beef thinly and set aside.
Cooking thinly sliced beef for Chuka Soba
Thinly sliced beef, cooked, for Chuka Soba
- Boil water for noodles. When boiling, add buckwheat noodles. Cook as directed on the package.
- When noodles are done, drain them and cool them under cold running water in a colander. Add ice cubes to keep them cold and leave in the sink.
- Mix together all ingredients for the Chuka Soba Sauce. Set aside with a serving spoon.
- Split the noodles between two plates, and arrange vegetables, meat, and egg in a radial pattern, with grated ginger and daikon at the center.
- Stack shiso leaves and roll them up like you did with the egg “crepes.” Slice them thinly, and add rolled slices to the center with the daikon. Keep the thin shiso slices in rolls for better presentation.
- Serve with the sauce at the table, and allow each person to dress their own accordingly.
If you did it right, this is what the Chuka Soba plates will end up looking like…
Very Low Amine: buckwheat noodles, cucumber, ginger, daikon radish, water, ascorbic acid, salt, soy sauce substitute, sesame oil substitute, bamboo shoots, green beans, bok choy, green onions, water chestnuts, carrot, shiso leaf, zucchini
Low Amine: apple juice, beef, egg, sugar
Very High Amine: chili oil