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Soba Noodles with Crispy Seitan and Vegetables

Soba noodles are made from buckwheat and they keep us strong and vital as a result. In this dish, they are the base for a veggie-loaded, high protein main course that will fuel you like you were an Italian sports car.

8 ounces soba noodles
1 cup fresh corn kernels
several snow peas, trimmed, left whole
1-2 carrots, thin matchstick pieces
2 stalks broccoli, small florets, stems peeled and thinly sliced
2-3 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until tender, thinly sliced
soy sauce
1 teaspoon kuzu, dissolved in a small bit of cold water
1 ripe pear, halved, cored, thinly sliced
juice of 1 lemon
8 ounces seitan, thickly sliced
1 cup (approx) whole wheat pasty flour
small handful tan sesame seeds, lightly pan-toasted
safflower oil for frying
2-3 fresh scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook noodles al dente. Drain and rinse well--Japanese noodles are coated with salt and require rinsing for the best flavor. While the noodles cook, bring a small pot of water to a boil and begin cooking vegetables separately, in the order listed above. You want them to be just crispy-tender, so don't boil them to death here. The shiitake will take a bit longer than the rest of the vegetables, so test them. Combine the vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Do not boil the pear--just toss it with lemon juice and mix in with vegetables, juice and all. 

Transfer 1 cup of vegetable cooking water to another pot. Warm through over low heat. Season lightly with soy sauce and stir in dissolved kuzu, stirring until mixture thickens. Spoon mixture over cooked vegetables and stir well to coat. While cooking noodles and vegetables, heat about one inch of oil in a deep skillet. Combine flour and sesame seeds. Dredge seitan slices to coat well. When oil is hot, fry seitan until golden on both sides, turning to fry evenly. Drain well on paper. 

To serve, toss cooked noodles with glazed vegetables and pear and arrange on a serving platter. Top with seitan and scallion slices. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings. 


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