This is the perfect dish for winter days when you feel that annoying cold about to take hold - the thick, hot broth loaded with grated ginger will warm you from the inside out. Ankake is the name of thickened dashi-based amber broth used as a soup or sauce in Japanese cuisine in various stages of viscosity.
- 500g dried soba (buckwheat) noodles
- 1 tbsp finely grated ginger
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced on an angle
- 1.25 litre (5 cups) full flavoured dashi
- 250 ml (1 cup) mirin
- 180 ml (3/4 cup) usukuchi, light Japanese soy
- 3-4 tbsp kuzu (kudzu) starch or arrowroot (see Note)
- pinch sugar, (optional) to taste
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil for cooking the noodles.
To make the ankake put all the ingredients into a large saucepan and mix together, crushing any lumps of kuzu and mixing until smooth. Place over a medium to high heat and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 minute or until slightly thickened and glossy. Season well with salt and add a pinch of sugar if desired.
Meanwhile cook the soba noodles by adding them to the pot of boiling water and when it comes to the boil arrest the cooking with 1 cup of cold water. Return to the boil and add another cup of cold water. Repeat and when the water next comes to the boil the noodles will be ready – ideally a little al dente but not chewy in the centre of the noodle. Drain and rinse the soba quickly under running cold water, gently rubbing off any excess starch with your fingers.
Divide the soba between 4 deep bowls and divide the pour a quarter of the ankake over the top of each. Top with a teaspoon of grated ginger (or less if preferred) and a pile of sliced spring onion next to it. Serve immediately. Mix the toppings into the sauce with chopsticks as you eat the noodles. Tip the bowl to your lips to finish any ankake in the bowl.
• Use more or less kuzu starch depending on how thick you prefer your broth. A teaspoon of ginger may be quite a strong dose for the uninitiated so perhaps start with half a teaspoon and serve the rest of the ginger in a condiment dish for adding extra if desired.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Tiffany Page.