All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Shinshu-mushi / white-flesh fish steamed with soba noodles

A gentle steamed fish dish accompanied by soba buckwheat noodles.

1/2 of recipe:
272 calories; 24.3 g protein; 1.3 g fat; 41.7 g carbohydrate; 38.1 g net carbs; 395 sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 481 mg with regular soy sauce); 55 mg cholesterol; 3.6 g fiber


1-2 fillets fish (190 g cod in photo)
Tiny amount of salt (for fish prep; 0.4 g)
1 tbsp sake (for fish prep)
2 pieces kombu kelp (each piece large enough to be placed underneath fish during steaming)

100 g soba buckwheat noodles (chasoba buckwheat noodles with matcha green tea in photo)

Small handful shungiku garland chrysanthemum (40 g in photo)
1/2 pack shimeji mushrooms (60 g in photo)

For tsuyu soup/sauce
175cc dashi
2g thick katsuo-saba-bushi shaved dried bonito mackerel
1/2 tbsp mirin
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp potato starch + 2-3 tsp water

Wasabi (not in photo)


Cut fish in two as necessary, sprinkle salt, and let sit 10 minutes.


In the meantime, blanch shungiku, starting with stem ends.

When color brightens, immediately transfer to ice water to stop cooking.


When shungiku cools, squeeze out excess water, and cut into 3cm.
Remove root ends of shimeji.


Wipe off water that comes out of fish, and pour over sake.


In a small pot, put dashi,
Place thick katsuo-saba-bushi in a "tea bag" (if available), and put in dashi.

Simmer on medium low heat for 5-10 minutes.

Remove katsuo-saba-bushi (or strain).

Add mirin and soy sauce, and bring to boil.
Turn off heat.

Start boiling water for steamer.


Meanwhile, tie one end of soba noodle bunches with twine.

Boil noodles for about half or less of time specified on package (cook 2 minutes if package says "boil for 4 or 5 minutes").
Transfer to cold water, and gently rub surface while changing water.

Cut off tied end.


On plates for serving dish, place kombu pieces and fish on top.


Steam for 5-6 minutes on medium heat (steam comes out of steamer).


Remove from steamer, place soba noodles and shimeji mushrooms, and steam again for 3 minutes.


In the meantime, heat up tsuyu soup/sauce.
Mix potato starch + water mixture well, add to tsuyu, mix, and simmer for 30 seconds or so.

Add more potato starch + water mixture as necessary to achieve desired thickness.
(Simmer until sauce becomes clear, or for about 60 seconds after adding the last starch + water mixture.)


Remove fish from steamer, place shungiku, and pour thickened tsuyu over.
Put a small amount of wasabi, and serve hot.

  • Adding potato starch + water mixture is to keep the sauce and dish warm for a longer time; this is optional, but it is nice in cold seasons. A thinner sauce works better (does not cling to your tongue) when the weather is warm.
  • Thickly shaved katsuo-saba bushi adds punch to dashi when simmered for some time. If not available, use regular katsuobushi bonito flakes or slightly stronger dashi (increase amount of ingredients). 
  • Shinshu-mushi is a general term for steamed white-flesh fish wrapped or topped with soba buckwheat noodles. Shinshu is an old name for what is now known as Nagano Prefecture. Nagano is famous for its soba buckwheat, and that is how the dish got its name. It is sometimes called Shinano-mushi. Shinano is another old name for Nagano.
  • Chasoba is soba containing cha [green tea; matcha green tea powder is mixed in soba].
  • Any soba noodles work fine. Soba noodles containing less wheat flour (high buckwheat flour content) are usually tastier, but there is one drawback here -- they tend to snap more easily when rinsing their surface in cold water with ends tied in a bundle at one end. Be extra gentle when rubbing the surface of noodles to make them smooth and slippery (texture is more pleasant this way).
  • Soba noodles can also be sandwiched between fish (photo at right). 
  • If tying one end of soba noodles is too time consuming or bothersome, noodles can be swirled on top of fish (photo below).

  • At upscale restaurants, noodles are often rolled with fish and presented vertically in a bowl -- very pretty. 
  • I use wasabi powder (sodium free). Add a small amount of water (less than amount of wasabi), mixing well with a spoon as if kneading for at least 1 minute to bring out the pungent aroma. 
  • Shungiku and shimeji are optional. Having some additional goodies adds color and changes in texture, taste and aroma.
  • 100 g soba (for two persons) above is a bit too much compared to the amount of fish. 70 g soba (or 35 g per person) would be sufficient.
  • The above nutrition figures are based on the following: 75% of salt sprinkled on fish as prep is absorbed by fish; 72% of sodium in buckwheat noodles is dissolved in boiling water (product package description); and 75% of tsuyu soup/sauce is consumed (if tsuyu is not thickened, the amount consumed should be less).

(Last updated: January 24, 2014)

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