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I’m Mari.
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cooking with dad: handmade soba

sobaI love noodles. If I had to rank Japanese noodles from favorite to least favorite - I'd say Gold: ramen, Silver: somen, Bronze: udon and then in 4th place: soba. (Can you tell I've been watching the Olympics?)

When mom said, 'Dad's making soba for dinner' I thought, okayyy... what's the big deal? The big deal was that it was going to be made from scratch. For seven people. For dinner. With a rolling pin. I think my dad's soba just bumped udon out of its Bronze medal position. Maybe even somen's Silver.

(Images from top to bottom: cooked and chilled soba on bamboo racks, weighing buckwheat flour, rolling dough, flouring dough with buckwheat powder, continuing to roll dough thinner, letting dough rest, dad resting too, cutting dough - do you see the size of that knife??, gently tossing and gathering soba so the noodles won't stick together when being cooked, cutting more soba)

The recipe that follows is the one my dad used. At the end of the post, is the more traditional yet harder to work with dough. Instructions are basically the same.

Zaru-Soba (Chilled Soba)
serves 2 as main course 

For the soba dipping sauce:
1 cup water
1 teaspoon dashi-no-moto (dried fish stock powder)
1/4-cup soy sauce
1/4-cup mirin (Japanese cooking wine)

For the soba noodles:
250g (8.8 oz) buckwheat flour
2 eggs, whisked
coarse buckwheat powder or cornstarch (for rolling dough)

For garnish:
1/4-cup scallion, thinly sliced - both white and green parts
nori, shredded (dried seaweed)

In a small pot, bring 1/2-cup water to a boil. Add dashi powder and let dissolve. Remove from heat. Add remaining 1/2-cup water, soy sauce, and mirin. Chill until cold. 

In a large bowl, put buckwheat flour in a large bowl. Add the eggs and with your hand, stir and press the flour into the eggs until all the flour has been gathered up. Remove dough and put on a well-powdered surface. Knead until smooth. Let rest for 10 minutes. 

With a well-powdered rolling pin and surface, roll dough to 1/2-inch thick. Cut dough in half and put one piece aside. Continue rolling and powdering dough until it's 1/4-inch thick. Cut in half and roll until it's a 1/8-inch thick sheet. Fold into thirds and place to the side. Repeat until all the dough has been rolled out. 

Stack two sheets and place a ruler on top of the stack. Cut dough into 1/8-inch strips. Toss with a little buckwheat powder so the noodles don't stick together. Repeat with remaining dough. 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add soba and cook for about 1-2 minutes or until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Drain and run cold water over the noodles to stop the cooking. Add some ice cubes and let the noodles chill. 

Serve each portion with a small dipping bowl on the side with about 1/2-cup chilled sauce. Add a little scallion, wasabi and shredded nori to the bowl. Dip just a mouthful's worth of soba into the sauce and eat. Continue adding additional scallion, wasabi, nori and sauce as the toppings and soba get eaten. 

Traditionally, after all the noodles have been eaten, the cooking water (sobayu) is added to the broth bowls and then drunk like soup.


This is the more traditional yet harder to work with dough:
200g (8.8 oz) buckwheat flour
50g (1.75 oz) all-purpose flour
110cc (3.75 oz) water

Check your local Japanese market for Japanese buckwheat flour and powder. My dad got his buckwheat from a friend that works in a soba restaurant. My understanding is that Bob's Red Mill is too coarse for this purpose. 

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