Making Charles Phan’s Spring Rolls has reawakened my obsession with crispy fried shallots. They make everything better. His recipe for fried shallots is also foolproof - twice frying ensures the shallots are perfectly browned instead of burned. His recipes have also opened my eyes to the virtues of shallot oil - full of nutty, toasted allium notes, it adds a depth of flavor to whatever you mix it with. I have also been experimenting with my riff on a quick dashi – I never seem to have enough dried bonito on hand to make traditional dashi, but have found an umami laden substitute using kombu and ginger in the stock and then just a sprinkle of smoky bonito on top of the noodles themselves. Adding crispy shallots deepens the savory notes and waiting to add the dashi until right before eating ensures they stay as crispy as possible.
1 3/4 cups
chicken stock (homemade or store bought)
2" x 2" piece of dried kombu, wiped clean with a damp towel
inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled, sliced into 6 thick coins, smashed with the back of a knife
1 1/2-2 1/2 tablespoons
soy sauce or Tamari
or 2 bundles dried soba noodles
dried, shaved bonito flakes, also called katsuobushi
sprigs cilantro, washed, dried and leaves separated
In This Recipe
For Crispy Shallots
Set a sieve over a medium heatproof bowl.
Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium high to 275° F (use a deep-fry thermometer). Add shallots and cook until just turning golden, about 7-8 minutes. Remove shallots from hot oil with a fork or slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Turn heat up to high until thermometer registers 350° F. Add shallots (they will sizzle) and cook until crisp and golden brown, about 10 seconds. Carefully pour oil through sieve to stop cooking. Transfer shallots to paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with kosher salt. When cool, transfer oil to a glass jar with a lid. Shallot oil will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Leftover crispy shallots will keep for a day or two in an airtight container.
For Soba and Dashi
In a saucepan, combine chicken stock, kombu, ginger and sake. Heat over medium-low, with lid slightly ajar. Allow mixture to slowly come to a bubble for 25 minutes. Remove kombu (can reserve for a second use if desired) and add 1 ½ T soy sauce or Tamari, rice vinegar and shallot oil, whisking to combine. Taste for salt and add more soy sauce or Tamari if necessary (up to 1 T more). Reduce heat to low. Cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, cook soba noodles in a pot of boiling water according to directions on package. Drain in a colander, rinsing noodles under running cold water, using both hands to fluff noodles and remove excess starch. Drain again, gently shaking colander to remove water. Evenly distribute noodles into four individual bowls, using a large fork or small tongs to twirl into a mound. Top noodles with about a teaspoon of crispy shallots, ½-1 t of bonito and 3-4 cilantro leaves. Fill four ramekins with 1/3 cup hot dashi each. Serve noodles with ramekin of dashi on the side. Pour dashi over noodles just before eating. Enjoy.
My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love.
Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.