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Duck soba

Oooohhhhhh, yeah. I made two recipes for the photo shoot with Jimi Filo. I spent so much time testing and retesting those matcha bars with strawberry jam until they were just right, that I forgot all about the duck soba!

Allow me to “un-forget” it, because it was really good and deserves its time in the spotlight.

Duck soba

I had to retest this one as well, but thankfully I got it right on the second try. The first time I made it, I tried searing the duck thighs directly in the donabe and then shredding them to add back to the soup. Confession time: I had never cooked duck before. I just assumed it would behave similarly to chicken, but I found out very quickly that it’s a bit different.

The duck didn’t cook all the way through in the same amount of time that chicken would have. Also, the meat clung for its dear life to the bone and I couldn’t get much of it off to use in the soup. I knew I was going to have to figure out a better way to cook the duck for this recipe to truly work.

Duck soba

This time, I baked it. I put it skin side up in a deep baking dish and set it in the oven at 400F degrees for 40 minutes, the same way I roast chicken. It came out with golden brown crispy skin, fully-cooked but tender meat, and enough rendered duck fat to keep me in duck fat fries for the next few years.

The meat is still pretty clingy though, definitely not as easy to get off the bone as chicken, but this time I was able to pick the bones pretty clean and have plenty of duck meat for the soup. You’ve really got to get at it with your hands though, none of this dainty fork-shredding nonsense. It’s gonna be quite an effort, but don’t let that duck think he’s bested you! You’ve gotta call that duck by the wrong name, emasculate him in front of his golfing buddies, and them make him do your taxes while you enjoy an ice cream cone in right front of him and don’t offer him any.

Wow, that got weird.

Duck soba

Here’s the recipe for this ducky and delicious soup…

Duck soba

A hot soup of shredded duck and shiitake mushrooms in a salty broth is the perfect dip for cold soba noodles.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Yield: Serves 2 to 4


  • 4 skin-on bone-in duck thighs
  • approx. 20 sliced shiitake mushroom caps (discard stems)
  • 3 large scallions (sliced thinly)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. hondashi
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 4 portions of dried soba noodles

Cooking Directions

  1. Roast duck thighs skin-side up in a deep baking dish for 40 minutes at 400F degrees. Allow to cool completely.
  2. Pull off skin and scrape off any remaining fat with a butter knife. Use your hands to pull the meat from the bones and shred. Discard skin but keep the bones.
  3. Boil soba noodles according to package directions in a large pot of water. When done, drain and rinse under cold water then set aside.
  4. In a clay pot or other heavy-bottomed pot, bring water, hondashi, soy sauce, and mirin up to a simmer along with the reserved duck bones.
  5. Let simmer for 3 minutes or so then remove duck bones and add in the shiitakes, scallions, and shredded duck meat. Let come back up to a simmer for about 5 minutes to soften the shiitakes and scallions before serving with soba noodles on the side for dipping.

Jimi has also finished his own write-up of the the photo shoot, you can check it out here. This was a really cool experience and I hope we can work together again in the future.

Bonus cat shot taken by Jimi…


Silly kitten.

Have you ever cooked duck before?



Tsukimi nabe

It’s lovely out right now. Drippy, gray, and blustery. Maybe most people hate rainy days but I love em’.

I’m on my fifth cup of tea and listening to the hollow patter of the heavy raindrops hitting the roof and echoing through the attic. The air smells metallic and has a weightiness to it that hangs heavy on my shoulders. I should avoid contact with anything soft such as the couch right now or I might just collapse right into it and never get up.

It’s days like these when I want nothing more than to sip on warm broth. Sometimes I wish I’d catch a cold just so I can watch movies on the couch all day while wrapped up in a giant fuzzy blanket and sipping on a bowl of chicken broth with rice and swirls of cooked egg.

This tsukimi nabe was made to be enjoyed on a day just like this.

Tsukimi nabe

Tsukimi means “moon-viewing” and is a reference to the addition of an egg to the soup right at the end of cooking. The bright yellow yolk symbolizes the full moon. With a rich broth full of tender vegetables, it is a wonderful meal for a dreary day.

I started by placing all my ingredients in the donabe. If you don’t have one it’s no problem; you can make this in any lidded pot, I’ve even made a soup like this in a baking dish covered with aluminum foil and baked in the oven.

Tsukimi nabe ingredients

Layered on a bed of napa cabbage are clusters of shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, carrots, yukon gold potatoes, soft tofu, and a sprinkling of scallions.

The broth is just water flavored with white miso, mirin, fish sauce, soy sauce, and hondashi, which is a dried form of dashi stock.

Tsukimi nabe broth

You pour the broth over everything else and turn the heat up to simmering with the lid on. After about 15 to 20 minutes, check the potatoes and carrots with a small knife, if they’re as soft as you like them then it’s done! The last thing to do is turn off the heat and crack an egg or two over the top, then just clamp on the lid for a few minutes to let the eggs set.

Tsukimi nabe simmering

The eggs in this nabe were still runny in the middle and when broken open they added a creamy richness to the hot broth.

Tsukimi nabe

The great thing about this dish is you can use whatever vegetables you want or have on hand, as long as there’s a soft egg cracked on top it’s still a tsukimi nabe!

Tsukimi nabe

This "moon-viewing" hot pot features golden-yolked eggs cracked over a hot and satisfying soup of vegetables and soft tofu.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 3 to 4 servings


  • 1/4 of a large napa cabbage
  • 4 to 6 shiitake mushroom caps
  • a small bunch of enoki mushrooms
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 1 to 2 small yukon gold potatoes
  • half a block of soft tofu
  • 3 large scallions
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tbsp. white miso
  • 1 tbsp. hondashi
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • sesame seeds and togarashi to garnish

Cooking Directions

  1. Press the extra moisture out of a half block of soft tofu.
  2. Cut vegetables into bite size pieces and arrange over a bed of napa cabbage in the donabe, break off pieces of the tofu and add in as well.
  3. Heat water and miso in the microwave or over the stove until warm, whisk to break up miso completely. Add the other liquid ingredients to the broth.
  4. Pour broth into donabe and cook on medium high heat with the lid on for 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender.
  5. Turn off the heat and crack eggs over the top of the soup, put lid on and wait a few minutes for the eggs to set before serving.

After photographing, I topped the soup with some toasted sesame seeds and a sprinkle of spicy togarashi seasoning. I could really just drink that broth straight out of a mug though, which I may just do since there are plenty of leftovers and it’s still drippy out.

What is your go-to comfort food for a rainy night?


Cafe 101

After all the homey comfort food we’ve been eating for the last week, Jeff and I were both craving a totally different sort of comfort food – Chinese.

If you’re familiar with Atlanta, then you know that Buford highway is the place to go for “ethnic” restaurants. There’s tons of great Korean barbecue, Vietnamese pho and bahn mi, slow-roasted Mexican pork in hand made corn tortillas, and of course some awesome Chinese offerings that go far beyond the general take out fare.

Cafe 101 is easily our favorite Chinese place. It’s a quirky little round building with sort of a clamshell roof, you can’t miss it.

Cafe 101

The walls are absolutely covered in magazine clippings and ceiling is a bit like a cathedral.

Cafe 101 inside Cafe 101 ceiling

We started with some hot jasmine tea to warm up from the cold weather we’ve gotten hit with this week. Floral and soothing like chamomile.

Cafe 101 jasmine tea

And we’re always given these little starter dishes of spicy cucumbers that have been only lightly pickled and a type of seaweed that I’m completely unsure of the name of.

Cafe 101 spicy cucumbersCafe 101 weird seaweed

And here’s where we proceeded to order entirely too much food, starting with some pork dumplings and some hot and sour soup.

Cafe 101 pork dumplings

Cafe 101 hot and sour soup

The dumplings were so soft and flavorful and the soup was full of tingly pepper that clings to the back of your throat.

We were both dying for mapo dofu, a crazy-spicy dish of tofu in a chili-heavy sauce. It was so good! The tofu actually had a distinct bean flavor that is sometimes missing from commercially-made tofus, and the sauce was the kind of spicy that makes you sweat and pant like a puppy.

Cafe 101 mapo dofu

We also got the duck buns, crispy-skinned duck on hot steamed buns with sour plum sauce and green onion. They actually brought all the fixins to the table and assembled the duck buns right in front of us.

Cafe 101 duck buns being prepared

I love this type of Chinese steamed bread, it’s so pillowy like a marshmallow. The duck was pretty fatty and I ended up picking off the larger hunks of fat, but it was still amazing.

Cafe 101 duck buns

As if we weren’t about to explode already, the server brought us a few slices of fragrant Chinese melon for a dessert and palate cleanser. Cool and crisp.

Cafe 101 melon dessert

We took a ton of food home and had it for lunch the next day. Mmmm, mapo dofu for lunch.

Cafe 101 is kind of a special place for me. I remember the day we got our wedding rings in the mail. Jeff and I agreed to meet at Cafe 101 for lunch and to see our rings for the first time, but they were closed when we got there. We ended up going to another Chinese place in the area yet for the longest time I completely forgot that that happened and was convinced that we’d saw them at Cafe 101 for the first time. So now that place is kind of tangled up in that memory and for some reason means more to me than the restaurant we actually ended up at.

Do you have a restaurant that is special to you for no real reason?