A zesty cousin of horseradish, the entire wasabi plant from root to leaves can be used in cooking. In this simple noodle dish, crisp wasabi stalks add texture, while the tender, chewy leaves are a complex substitute for bitter greens. Spicy grated root can be added to taste for the perfect amount of kick. While in the past wasabi has rarely been grown outside of Japan, it's beginning to be cultivated in the U.S. by growers such as Frog Eyes Wasabi. This recipe first appeared in the tablet edition of our June/July 2014 issue with Adrian J.S. Hale's story "Mean Green."
- 8 oz. soba noodles
- 3 tbsp. sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 20 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
- 8 stalks wasabi, stems thinly sliced, leaves roughly chopped, plus a 2"-piece wasabi, peeled and grated, plus more for serving
- 4 scallions, sliced ¼" thick
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. sesame seeds, lightly toasted for garnish
Bring a 6-qt. saucepan of water to a boil; cook noodles until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse noodles under cold water; transfer to a bowl and toss with 1 tbsp. sesame oil.
Wipe pan clean and heat canola oil over medium-high; cook shiitake mushrooms until golden-brown, 6–8 minutes. Add wasabi stems and leaves, plus half the scallions; cook until leaves stems are tender, 3–4 minutes and transfer to bowl with noodles. Add remaining sesame oil, the grated wasabi, and soy sauce; toss to combine. Divide noodles between bowls; garnish with remaining scallions and sesame seeds. Grate more wasabi over the top of each bowl, if you like.