Charmingly, the recipe that inspired this dish calls for crunched up packages of ramen noodles, not the snooty buckwheat soba you see above. If you have some TopRamen on hand, go for it and tell me how it turned out. I've never had anything like what this recipe--and the dozens of others like it I found online--so I don't know what it was really supposed to be like. I suspect it was meant to be more like an asiany crunchy salad or slaw. What I wound up with was more in the spirit of the sesame noodles or peanut noodles from your local Chinese place as an appetizer.
On the last sunny day in Boston before the recent bout of distinctly unspringlike weather, I tossed together this quick lunch for two while the H.V. napped upstairs between classes. When he descended, we munched these savory noodles in companionable quiet and enjoyed the warm sun coming in through the windows of our apartment. The toasty almonds and the tender cabbage seemed tentatively springlike, but the hot noodles were substantive enough to line our tummies and anchor us for one last battle with winter.
Buckwheat Noodles with Napa Cabbage and Almonds
Start some water boiling for the noodles. Meanwhile, melt in a large skillet:
3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds (I only had whole almonds, which I "slivered" with a large chef knife. The final result was rustic, but served its purpose)
Toast the almonds until golden, then add:
1 head Napa cabbage, chopped into coleslaw-like ribbons
While the cabbage softens, boil for a scant 2 minutes:
1 package buckwheat soba noodles, snapped in half or in quarters
Drain and rinse under cold water, then add them to the pan with the cabbage. Toss in:
4 scallions, green and white parts, chopped
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar (or other white vinegar)
2 Tablespoons rice wine (or honey mixed with water, or maple syrup)
Let the whole thing bubble away for a minute or two on high heat, then garnish with sesame seeds and serve hot.
For more pasta, presto!