Mark Bittman: Teriyaki Noodles with Asparagus and Edamame

By Freya Bellin

As the weather finally becomes mild, the word picnic has returned to my vocabulary, and I’ve started mentally collecting good recipes for outdoor eating. Not all tasty dishes make tasty picnic fare, but fortunately, most pasta salads will do the trick—especially if they taste good at room temperature, like this one. I love how filling soba noodles are, and they still match well with light sauces and green veggies, as in this recipe. The sauce is simple but flavorful, and the asparagus and edamame are a beautiful, springy contrast to the dark noodles. Try to get your hands on some of the lovely asparagus that’s out there while it’s still super fresh. And happy picnicking!  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

Teriyaki Noodles with Asparagus and Edamame

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Just by adding a little extra liquid, you can turn virtually any stir-fry into an excellent sauce for tossing with noodles, rice, or other grains. Asparagus is particularly nice here because it browns beautifully, but you can use green beans or sliced broccoli as alternatives. (I peel thick asparagus, which isn’t strictly necessary, but it only takes a minute and makes it much less fibrous. Or skip the whole thing and use broccoli florets.) For a spicier sauce, add a couple dried red chiles to the skillet along with the garlic and ginger.

1 1⁄2 pounds asparagus, peeled if thick, cut into 2-inch lengths


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1⁄2 cup chopped scallions

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

8 ounces any rice, buckwheat (soba), or wheat noodles, preferably whole grain

2 cups shelled edamame, fresh or frozen (thaw them while you assemble the dish)

1⁄4 cup soy sauce

1⁄4 cup mirin, or 2 tablespoons honey mixed with 2 tablespoons water

1. If the asparagus is thick, parboil it, then shock it in a bowl of ice water and drain. If the spears are thin, don’t bother.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put a large skillet over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the oil, wait a few seconds, and add the asparagus and scallions. Cook, stirring, for a minute, then stir in the ginger and garlic. Cook until the asparagus is dry, hot, and beginning to brown and get tender, 5 to 10 minutes; remove the pan from the heat.

3. Cook the noodles in the boiling water until tender but not mushy. Check them frequently: The time will vary from a minute or 2 for thin rice noodles, to 5 minutes for soba, or up to 12 minutes for wide brown rice noodles. Drain the noodles, reserving some of the cooking liquid.

4. Turn the heat under the asparagus to medium. Add the noodles, edamame, soy sauce, mirin, and about 1⁄2 cup of the reserved water to the skillet; continue to cook, stirring, until the asparagus and edamame are heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Divide the noodles among 4 bowls, spooning any extra broth in the pan over all. Serve hot.

Teriyaki Noodles with Asparagus and Chicken. Omit the edamame. Before adding the asparagus and scallions to the skillet in Step 2, add 8 ounces sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh meat. Stir once, then let the chicken sit for 1 minute to brown. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and scallions to the skillet and proceed with the recipe.

From the award-winning champion of conscious eating and author of the bestselling Food Matters comes The Food Matters Cookbook, offering the most comprehensive and straightforward ideas yet for cooking easy, delicious foods that are as good for you as they are for the planet. The Food Matters Cookbookis the essential encyclopedia and guidebook to responsible eating, with more than 500 recipes that capture Bittman's typically relaxed approach to everything in the kitchen.