Maze-what you say?
I recently went on a bit of a vacation back to the motherland (Vancouver, BC Canada) and tried a dish called Mazesoba at Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba in downtown Vancouver. It’s a relatively new dish (not that new), and is only just arriving to some places in North America.
What is it? The name basically means mixed noodles, called either abura soba or mazesoba, (mazemen or mazeudon if you’re calling out specific types). Noodles, generally thick, served with a variety of toppings, spicy meat, an egg or egg yolk and some sauce instead of soup. You mix it all up into this creamy umami bomb that’s basically like the best carbonara you’ve ever had.
This is the version I could come up with at home in small-ish town NC. We don’t have a mazesoba place and our ramen places here are often unforgivable (sorry, not sorry).
I could only find fresh udon, I used ground chicken instead of pork as we always have some on hand. The dish often calls for fish powder (gyofun), which adds depth and umami, I could not find this locally so in lieu I added some red miso-butter for flavour and richness. I also take the extra step to add crispy garlic chips instead of raw minced garlic, but you could use that if you prefer a sharper flavour.
Doubanjiang (or Toban-djan) is a fermented chili bean sauce. If you cannot find this you could use a fresh chili, sambal or even sriracha if desperate. It is a difficult flavour to replicate otherwise. You’ll still have a tasty dish without it.
If you are unable to find kombu/dried kelp, you can omit it but it really adds a lot of depth to the dish.
It should be relatively easy to find shaoxing wine, but it can be replaced with dry sherry if needed.
You can find kombu, gyofun, and doubanjiang online if you’re more patient than I am and are willing to wait for it to arrive.
If you are uncomfortable with eating raw egg yolk, a boiled, poached or sunny side up egg will suffice. I would NOT omit it, as the runny yolk really makes this dish.
What you need:
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 2 tbsp water
- 1″ piece of dried kombu (kelp)
- Combine liquid and kombu into a small pot and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 6 minutes. Transfer to a container or bowl to cool. Set aside.
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 2″ piece dried kombu
- Mix vinegar and kombu. Place in small container or sealed bottle. Set aside.
- 1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
- 3 tsp aka or red miso paste
- Mix until well combined and set aside.
Fried Garlic Chips:
- 4-6 cloves of garlic, very finely sliced
- 4 tbsp of oil
- Gently fry garlic until lightly golden brown and crisp. Remove immediately and place on paper towel to cool. (be sneaky and reserve some cooking oil for the meat later to make it super garlicy tasty)
Mazesoba (serves 4):
- 4 packets/servings of fresh udon (noodles usually come pre-portioned)
- 1/2 lb minced meat (I used chicken)
- 1 tbsp oil (use reserved garlic oil if you can)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp doubanjiang or other chili paste
- 1 tbsp shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 sheets nori, torn or cut into small strips/confetti
- 4 green onions
- prepared garlic chips, miso butter and mazesoba sauce
- cooked short grain rice, 1/2 cup per person (optional)
- Set a pot to boil while you prepare your meat on another burner.
- On medium high heat, begin by sauteeing garlic in the two oils. Add doubanjiang and cook until fragrant, do not burn garlic. Add shaoxing wine. Add meat and cook until no longer pink and beginning to brown. Add soy sauce and sugar and cook 1-2 more minutes just to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Cook noodles, fresh udon usually only takes about 3 minutes, so prepare accordingly.
- Set bowls out and place 1 tbsp of miso butter, and 2 tbsp of mazesoba sauce in each. Transfer hot noodles to each bowl. Stir gently to melt butter and distribute sauce. Top with even amounts of nori, green onions, garlic chips and the meat mixutre in the center. Gently place egg yolk on top.
- Serve with kombu vinegar (and chili oil if you like things spicy) for garnishing, and a small bowl of rice.
To eat, mix everything up and slurp away. Once you’ve finished eating your noodles, add the bowl of rice to the goodies left in the bottom of the bowl, a splash of vinegar and mop up all that goodness!