I should be clear from the get-go: on my list of resolutions every year is to rediscover my love for cooking. So far, it hasn't worked. In fact, it's been a dismal failure. Cooking stresses me out. The last time I could honestly say that I even had a love for cooking was in college, when making a meal was as social as it was creative and/or productive. Unfortunately, I have four mouths to feed, all of which really, really love food. This cooking-eating problem is tempered by 1) having a husband who does not balk when he gets home after a long day of work and realizes that I have no idea what we're having for dinner and 2) a small arsenal of tried-and-true and, more importantly, easy dishes that we generally can whip up in twenty minutes, with ingredients* we generally have on hand**.
A summer staple is Japanese buckwheat noodles (soba). It is traditionally prepared like this, but we have come up with our own version. While the noodles are boiling (this only takes a few minutes), I chop tofu, scallions (we were out when I took the picture above), and cut up nori. I also fry an egg beaten with mirin and sesame oil. I rinse the noodles in cold water and dump everything in bowls. While it is almost as easy to make the dipping sauce/broth from scratch, what makes this dish really easy is the existence of bottled soup base (tsuyu) that is easily found at Asian grocery stores and online. Sometimes we do it the traditional way and dip the noodles in the sauce, a bite at a time, but other times I just pour a bit of tsuyu in a bowl. (I realize this entire dish might be considered sacrilege, but it is quite delicious). If we have some on hand, I top the dish with sesame seeds or pickled vegetables.
Quick, easy, and delicious. And great for hot weather.
*A note on the ingredients for this meal--we have a great Asian grocery store nearby, but I included (affiliate) links for convenience.
**Full disclosure: this really means grilled cheese sandwiches.