Soba with Crispy Shallots, Bonito & Cilantro

February 24, 2015

Author Notes: 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.

Serves: 4 as the start of a meal


For Crispy Shallots

  • 2 ounces shallots (2 medium), trimmed, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • kosher salt

For Soba and Dashi

  • 1 3/4 cups chicken stock (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 2" x 2" piece of dried kombu, wiped clean with a damp towel
  • 1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled, sliced into 6 thick coins, smashed with the back of a knife
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 1 1/2-2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce or Tamari
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon shallot oil
  • 7 ounces or 2 bundles dried soba noodles
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried, shaved bonito flakes, also called katsuobushi
  • crispy shallots
  • 3-4 sprigs cilantro, washed, dried and leaves separated
In This Recipe


For Crispy Shallots

  1. Set a sieve over a medium heatproof bowl.
  2. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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