This dish is further proof that brown butter makes everything better. In a soba noodle dish where you’d expect soy sauce and friends, brown butter and fish sauce join together to make a rich, nutty, umami bomb of a sauce. And by sautéing mushrooms and greens in the sauce, they take on a complexity that surprises given their quick turn in the pan. The whole thing takes about 15 minutes from start to finish—the type of dish that’s so good I’ve found myself eating it straight from the pan.
fish sauce (I like the Red Boat brand)
chile-garlic sauce, or to taste (virtually any type of chile sauce will work here)
mushrooms, sliced (cremini, shiitake, or a combination)
Finely grated zest of one large lime (juice reserved)
2 to 3 cups
roughly torn kale, chard, or spinach leaves (about half a small bunch)
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and cook until it turns brown and smells nutty, about 4 to 6 minutes. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom so they don't burn.
Add the fish sauce, chile-garlic sauce, and lime zest to the brown butter, stirring to integrate. The fish sauce will smell strong at this point, but it’ll mellow as the dish comes together.
Add mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 4 to 6 minutes, over medium heat, then add the greens and sauté a few minutes longer. (If using young, tender greens, skip this step and add them at the end with the soba noodles.)
Meanwhile, cook the soba noodles according to package directions.
When the soba noodles are done, drain and immediately add them to the skillet. Add 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of lime juice, and toss together until the noodles are evenly coated with the brown butter sauce. Taste for seasoning and balance, adding kosher salt, more lime juice, or sesame oil if needed.