On this episode of Improv Kitchen, chef Nyesha Arrington is challenged by producer McGraw Wolfman to make soba noodle carbonara. “He wants me to take soba noodle, a classic soba noodle, generally [prepared] with a light elegant broth, and he’s asking me to put some heavy, rich, balcony, eggy sauce with it,” says chef Arrington, laughing at the difficulty of the challenge. Can she use her ingenuity in the kitchen to make these incongruous elements work together? “I’m into it, let’s make it work!”
Instead of making traditional carbonara and pouring it over soba noodles, chef Arrington considers how the broth will pair, and thinks through the components of carbonara. Using shallots, eggs, garlic, bacon, mushrooms, soy sauce, butter, sake, and parmesan, Arrington begins to simmer the base for her dressing.
Chef Arrington then makes simple soba noodles from scratch, using AP flour, buckwheat flour and water. She experiments with the dough, rolling it and cutting it in different ways to get the desired length of noodle.
When everything is ready, chef Arrington assembles the dish. She places roasted bacon, chopped scallions, cooked snow peas, and a poached egg in a bowl. Then, she adds parmesan cheese, her broth, and the noodles. The result is a sort of soba carbonara ramen creation.
“I think this is a nice respectful way to [honor] both traditions. It’s elegant and light, and it’s really about technique,” says chef Arrington. “My brain tells me I’m eating carbonara, but yet, refined and elegant and light. Both were respected throughout the process, and we kind of created something new.”