Braised pork soba in organic Ithaca

Oh my, it’s been a while. I’m not exactly on the other side of the world, but it feels like a pretty good approximation.

Since leaving Shenzhen, I returned to the US and spent one week in Montana, another in Indiana and am now in Ithaca NY visiting Misa.

It’s nice to be back in the US, but needless to say this much travel is pretty disorienting. One of the big shocks is how hard it is to get around. Despite having grown up in “not-a-damn-thing-for-miles-around” Indiana, I still never seem to get used to/sufficiently plan for this. Yesterday I left the house to go pick up Misa from campus, and accidentally locked myself out – with neither car nor house keys, nor of course my phone, which sat and mocked me from the window ledge.

It was at that point that I realized that I had no options. The Cornell campus is at least 7-8k away, and I had told Misa that I was “on my way.” Even calling a taxi meant a 15 minute walk to a pay phone (assuming that those even exist anymore), and then we would have to take a bus back — a good hour-long journey, just to end up right back where we started, and hungry to boot.

Luckily – and I mean really – a very nice stranger extricated me from this dilemma by giving me a ride to campus and giving both of us a ride back. Now that’s beyond nice, but just shows how lonely life can be without a car.

In any case, we got our dinner, which in true Ithaca fashion, consisted mostly organic kale. Actually, Misa has a subscription from one of the community gardens for a weekly box of organic produce. You don’t know what you will get, but you know it will be good. Last week she got celery, cabbage, onions and purple potatoes – the celery was so fresh that it was sweet. I honestly did not know that was possible. I diced it very fine and mixed it with ground pork and tofu to make meatballs, which we ate with toothpicks, in order to be fancy.

Today after a morning run, I made this dish to finish off the carrots and onions:

Braised pork soba

– Boil one package of soba noodles, leaving them slightly undercooked. Rinse under cold water, toss with a bit of oil and leave to drain.
– Slice one pound of pork loin into very thin strips, and then cut again in half. Toss in oil, salt and corn starch, and set aside.
– Cut two large onions into thin strips, and coarsely grate two carrots, finely grate about two tablespoons of ginger

Lightly fry (without browning) everything except the noodles. Stir in 3 tbs of sake, 2 tbs of soy sauce, about 1/2 tsp of dashi powder and 1 1/2 cups of water, cover and simmer until the onions are soft and the flavors have blended. Remove from heat, mix in 2 tsp of sesame oil and the cold noodles, cover and let sit for five minutes. Serve with sesame and/or chopped green onions.

This was a simple dish that really showed off the taste of Ithaca’s incredible local produce. The richness of the pork and onions blended beautifully with the earthy soba.

 

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