fennel-carrots-soba-0551I might have written this already, Soba are just noodles, but on a different level. First of all they are made from buckwheat, secondly, they are tricky to manage. Plenty of water to rinse off all the starch they come with, this is what we need to tame a bunch of Soba noodles. Although I learnt my lesson after a few gluey, gummy, sticky soba noodles, I keep forgetting this golden rule. Woe!

fennel-carrots-soba-0510This was one of the few times that I got it right.  The noodles still emerged from the boiling water all sticky and mushy but I remembered to wash away the starch under water. I felt much better, after. Oh yeah, I was relieved. I still had a bunch of few other ingredients to take care of to make a good stir fry, however the worst was over. Almost. That day, I only had carrots (possibly the same carrots I showed you here) and a new entry: fennel.

fennel-carrots-soba-0540So I convinced myself that the two match well. Educated guess, I could say. Or lack of genuine alternative: a couple of days a week my fridge goes minimalist. And I respect that.

Luckily, the two veggies match. Sure, they do. After all, they both grow underground and both taste like “ah, interesting, healthy…”. Both need to be jazzed up with spices, cooked in extra virgin olive oil and seasoned well.

sobaI used a blend of spices that includes cumin, sesame seeds and sumac. Powerful stuff. And yet, I noticed something was missing so I opted for a quick “caramelization” (with Mirin) to add more character  (“add character”… don’t you love this expression?). Florence fennel or finocchio, as we say in Italy, has bulb-like stem base that is used very often raw as a crunchy vegetable in salads. As you can see here, I cooked it. I was not sure it was going to work but this was one of those experiments I do when I am home alone and happy to take the risk with new recipes.  Which, by the way, are likely to be “old” already, since everything has been tested and invented in this new era of fast connections.

fennel-carrots-soba-0560Probably in the future we’ll see a new generation of recipes, with ingredients that are not what we think they are (like this fennel is an onion, or these carrots are pieces of orange cheddar cheese :)). Restaurateurs from all around the world will have hard time creating food trends. In the meantime, monstrosities like cronut will be in the limelights.  Soul food, however, will never change, right? No margin of improvement here.

fennel-carrots-soba-0564Is there a recipe you think is perfected already and should not be changed? I personally pray for the Neapolitan pizza to stay always as good as it is now :).

Print Recipe
3 from 1 vote

Caramelized Carrot and Fennel Soba


  • 6 ounces/180 grams soba noodles or 2 portions in the packet
  • 1 medium fennel
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 4-5 peas
  • 1 tbs Mirin sake, or rice wine vinegar
  • 2 carrot cut 1cm slices
  • 1 fennel sliced & fronds reserved
  • 1 onion chopped


  • Slice the carrots, fennel and finely chop the onion.
  • In a stir fry pan heat the cumin, sugar, olive oil and Mirin for 1-2 minuts. Add the carrots, peas, fennel, and onion and stir well to make sure they are all coated. Cook for about 10 minutes until golden and fragrant.
  • Set a large pot of salted water to boil. When the water is boiling, toss in your noodles about 3-4 minutes. Rinse the noodle well running cold water for 2-3 minutes, then drain them and transfer to the stir fry pan.
  • Mix the noodles and veggies adding more Mirin and/or oil if too dry, stir fry for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

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  1. 3 stars
    Hi, thin looks yummy and I’m in process of making it- the recipe has made me confused;

    You mention cumin and sumac in the introduction text, and then only cumin in the explanation of the recipe- however in the ingredients list there is no mention of cumin or sumac.

    Can you clarify?

  2. Yay for another soba noodle dish! I love seeing all of your Asian noodle dishes – they are a part of my life growing up! In addition, I use toasted sesame oil + soy sauce as a seasoning for the noodles after rinsing in cold water for more flavors. Mmm I love fennel, I would love to try this with noodles! Thank you for sharing this delicious soba dish Daniela!