I found a reliable source of wonderful buckwheat flour for a fresh homemade soba and started exploring traditional recipes with fresh noodles. Duck is one of my favorite ingredients, and Kamo Nanban Soba became one of the most repeated summer soups in my kitchen. This dish can be made with duck tsukune (meatballs) and/or seared and thinly sliced duck breast. Duck meatballs should be pre-cooked, and they are the best when grilled. I prefer duck breast in this dish. One breast is enough for two portions. It takes time to render fat from its skin, so it makes sense to start doing it while making buckwheat noodles. The rest is simple — baste the breasts with hot rendered duck fat until 80% cooked, let rest and cool, keep refrigerated until ready to serve the soup. Thinly sliced and arranged on top of the soba in a bowl, the duck is cooked to complete doneness with steaming hot stock poured right over it.
This soup is usually served with thinly sliced negi, Japanese leeks (or etymologically — nanban, onions). Since negi is not always handy, I substitute it with scallions. Thin slices of watermelon radish add some crunchy texture and make the presentation more attractive.
Mentsuyu is a basic noodle soup broth essential in both hot and cold udon, soba, somen, and ramen dishes. On its own it’s used as a dipping sauce for cold noodles, when diluted down a little it’s used for noodle soup. The flavoring base of mentsuyu is kaeshi, a cooked-down mixture of three high-quality ingredients — soy sauce, sugar, and mirin.
Kamo Nanban Soba | Buckwheat Noodles Soup with Duck Breast and Scallions
Servings: 4 servings
- 1 cups soy sauce
- 0.25 cup sugar
- 0.25 cup mirin
for the soup
- 6 cups dashi
- 0.5 cup kaeshi adjust to taste
- 3 tbsp mirin adjust to taste
- 4 portions soba cooked
- 2 each duck breast
- 2 each negi, Japanese leeks white part, sliced 1" long
- 4 each scallions thinly sliced
- 2 tsp wasabi freshly grated
- 1 each watermelon radish small, thinly sliced
- 4 tsp shichimi togarashi adjust to taste
In a small saucepan, add soy sauce, mirin, and sugar and bring to a boil. Let simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Pour hot into a clean glass jar and close with a lid. Store refrigerated for up to 5 months.
for the soup
To prepare the hot soba broth, add the dashi, kaeshi, and mirin to a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Score the duck’s skin. Season with salt on both sides, place it skin-side down on a cold dry skillet and slowly render the fat over low heat, for about 25-30 min. When the skin is golden and crispy, baste the duck with hot fat for another 5-10 minutes to cook rare (115F inner temp). Remove from heat and let rest skin-side up.
Discard the fat and return the skillet to the heat. If using, add negi and saute until it caramelizes slightly, and set aside.
Slice the duck breasts 1/8" thin and set aside, covered to prevent drying. Steps 1-4 can be made in advance and, in that case, all components of the dish should be stored refrigerated until ready to serve.
Cook the soba and drain it in a colander. If not serving immediately, cool the soba in a cold bath and reheat just before eating by dipping a strainer with noodles into boiling stock for a few seconds.
In a pot, bring the soba broth to boiling. Divide the soba noodles among warmed bowls. Arrange the duck slices and negi over the soba and watermelon slices on the side of the bowl. Pour boiling broth over the duck slices. Garnish each bowl with about 1 tbsp sliced scallions and 0.5-1 tsp wasabi. Season with shichimi togarashi to taste.