Many colleagues of mine are working mums, but I will say they are super mums. The idea of them making diligent efforts at work to be competent and rushing back home to prepare dinner for their family is undeniably admirable.
When we are racing against time, it's effortless to order take outs, or in Mandarin we call it 打包 (da bao) food home for the family. Convenience is key, which results to busy individuals relying on outside food to fix their three meals. Nevertheless, nutrition is still paramount. A conscious, considerable, small effort to prepare a less salt and less oil for one out of three meals in a day, makes a slight impact to our bodies and wellness over time.
Therefore, it takes baby steps to brighten our weekday dinners with a simple, healthy Tomato Chicken Soba that can be served in a jiffy. This process is streamlined so that it takes no more than 30 minutes. A sweet tasting dinner is what we are looking for, and kids love it!
In this recipe, fresh, juicy tomatoes and chicken steaks go for a steam, and that makes the step to prepare a dressing sauce totally redundant, which is commonly required in other dry noodle recipes.
The steaming process forms a crimson pool of natural tomato sauce, with gold spots glistening on the surface. It has more than enough sauce to drizzle over cooked soba straight away.
This is why we should always go fresh, don't rely too much on store bought tomato sauces for the sweetness.
Soba is another essential ingredient added to my kitchen recently. The nutty flavour noodle is made from buckwheat flour, its thickness is pretty similar to angel hair pasta. That means it takes less than 8 minutes to cook them!
Here are the reasons why I start stocking up Soba:
- A low calorie diet (doesn't mean you need less): Soba is great source in protein, iron, and fibre. 1 cup of cooked noodles boosts 24% manganese a woman needs a day.
- Manganese is essential for healthy bone growth and structure, especially increasing the mineral density of the spinal bone.
- Manganese-activated enzymes help in the metabolism of cholesterol, amino acids, and carbohydrates.
- Alleviate the PMS, headaches, depression and irritability to a considerable extent.
- Gluten-free (wheat-free option) However, do read the food labels to ensure that the soba is made up of 100% buckwheat flour.
- Versatility. Perfect on its own with a dipping sauce when it's chilled, or heat it up and stir-fry it with whatever protein you like.
If you are considering to switch from wheat pasta to soba noodles, you'll be missing out on the B-complex vitamins, iron and selenium found in wheat pasta. Pair soba with a protein, be it chicken breasts, beancurd, fish or add steamed or sauteed vegetables as sources of fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants.
Time 30 minutes
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 3 Chicken Leg Steak (approx. 900g)
Marinate for the chicken
- 2 fresh tomatoes on vine
- 2 tbsp tomato puree (Hunt’s)
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1.5 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp Chinese shaoxing wine
- 1 tbsp water
For the soba
- 270g dry soba noodles, (approx. 1 packet)
- 1 cup frozen edamame beans
- ½ large yellow onion
- ½ bulb garlic
- ½ spring onion (optional)
- Take out 3 frozen chicken leg steaks from the packet and place them a Ziploc bag. Seal the packet and put remaining pieces in the freezer for future use. Place the Ziploc bag in a container and put it at the lower compartment of the refrigerator to thaw for 1 hour. Dispose thaw liquid away.
- Remove skin and fats from chicken leg steaks, and slice them in big chunks. (The size of chicken chunks will shrink when they are steamed)
- Put frozen edamame beans into the microwave oven for 2 minutes. Remove beans from pods. Set aside in a bowl.
- Cut tomato into chunks. Crush garlic cloves.
- Slice yellow onions and spring onions in thin strips.
- In a mixing bowl, pour in tomato chunks and chicken chunks.
- Mix marinade ingredients in a bowl. Pour into mixing bowl and add crushed garlic. Combine everything well.
- Place tomato chicken chunks into a steaming tray. Steam chicken over medium heat for 13-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, fill stock pot with 3 bowls of water over medium heat. Once it starts boiling, put in soba and cook for 5 minutes. Drain cooked soba noodles and put them in a bowl of ice water to cool the soba, this stops soba from cooking further. Use chopsticks to separate soba in strains.
- Portion soba, edamame beans, yellow onion strips in individual bowl. Scoop one ladle of steamed tomato chicken over soba. Garnish with spring onions to serve. Toss well and enjoy.
- When cooking soba, 5-6 minutes is suffice for thinner strains. For thicker soba, it will be about 7-8 minutes.