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My junior year of college I had the privilege of traveling to Japan as a student craftsperson. At County Fair held on the grounds of Seisen Ryo (the hotel where we stayed), I demonstrated how to braid the brooms made at Berea College. The experience was life changing. I met amazing people, ate wonderful new foods, and was exposed to a fantastic culture.

Below: This plate was part a meal we were served at a traditional Japanese home during a traditional Japanese meal. Each were in season at the time. The grapes are as big as rubber bouncy balls.

Below: Fried pork served with grainy mustard.

Below: The most delicious thing I ate the whole time in Japan was this creamy vanilla pudding with fresh fig, kiwi, pear, and grapes topped with raspberry sauce. Unbelievably good!

Since coming back to the US, I have tried to incorporate some of Japanese food into my own menus. Soba, a noodle made of buckwheat, is a traditional Japanese ingredient I have access to in KY. When I ate it in Japan, it was prepared in a broth with scallions and mushrooms. Very filling and like a fancy version of ramen noodles.  Today’s recipe is one of the best ways I have found to serve soba.

Chicken Veggie Noodle Bowl

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sriracha (chili-garlic sauce found in the Asian section but excellent in many other cuisines)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3/4 lb chicken tenders
  • 1 1/4 lb baby bok choy
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 lb snow peas
  • 1 sweet pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms of your choice
  • 6 ounces of soba noodles, cooked according to package instructions
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions

In a medium bowl, whisk together broth, soy sauce, cornstarch, hoisin, vinegar, and sriracha. Set aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet and add 1 tbsp. Saute chicken until no longer pink in the middle; set aside. In skillet, add second tbsp oil along with bok choy, onion, and garlic; stir fry for 3 minutes. Add snow peas and peppers and stir fry for about 4 minutes or until tender crisp. Cover part of the time. Stir in sauce and chicken. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce starts to thicken or about 2 minutes. In a large serving bowl, combine soba and sesame oil. Toss in vegetable and chicken mixture. Garnish with scallions.  Makes 4 servings.

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