This recipe might shock some of the purists amongst you, but luckily I could hardly describe myself as one, so I had a go at this unusual recipe and was delighted with the results.
It reflects my own ethnic and culinary heritage - Japanese and Italian cooking in one simple dish. To enjoy this recipe you will need to love Japanese perilla, most commonly known as "shiso". It looks similar to the Vietnamese variety but with a stronger flavour and characteristic aroma.
I make Italian pesto at home in large quantities as it freezes incredibly well, is significantly cheaper than buying fresh from the local deli, and tastes far superior to its jar/supermarket equivalent. This was the first time I dry-fried the pine kernels which gave this pesto variation a rather toasty flavour.
• 400g of Soba noodles (buckwheat)
• 30 green shiso leaves (can be purchased at Atariya, Fuji Foods, or Japan Centre)
• 100g of rocket leaves
• 40g pine kernels (roasted)
• 1 garlic clove crushed
• 100ml extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons brown miso paste
• Black sesame seeds for garnishing (optional)
1. Making the pesto: reserve a few shiso and rocket leaves for garnish. Tear the remaining leaves into pieces and blend them with all other ingredients (apart from the Soba noodles!) in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to an air tight container until required.
2. Cooking the noodles: in a large pan, boil a large quantity of salted water, and cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet (normally around 5 mins only). Drain in a colander and rinse with freshly boiled water to remove the extra starchiness of the soba noodles.
3. Toss the noodles in the Japanese pesto and garnish with the reserved shiso and rocket leaves, and black sesame seeds if using. Serve immediately.
This is a delicious dish that will take you only a few minutes to prepare, and is ideal as a midweek treat or as a starter for an informal Japanese meal. This recipe will serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main.
Note: Soba noodles, normally light brown, can also be purchased as "Cha-Soba" which are flavoured with green tea powder (matcha) and are green in colour.