Soba Noodles

Soba Crop in Nagano
Soba Field in Nagano

そば

Soba, The Beloved Buckwheat Noodles of Japan

The Nagano region of Japan is famous for its soba noodles. The area’s soil has all the necessary nutrients to produce high quality soba noodles or Shinshu Soba. During our culinary tour of Japan, we make a stop at a quaint, soba dojo (school) in the high elevations of Yamanashi. Here we learn the art and craft of handmade soba noodles. While that might sound intimidating, the class is one of the most loved activities of the tour. If you go, you’ll discover, it’s not has hard as it seems.

Soba School in Yamanashi
Soba Dojo

A Little Soba History
Like boulbase and bbq and other great foods, soba noodles were born in the kitchens of the working class. Under the feudal systems in Japan, farmers grew both rice and soba crops. Much of the  rice crop was used to pay taxes, and the soba crop kept for themselves. Like its counterpart Udon, ground buckwheat was simply mixed with water and made into dough then cooked in hot pots, grilled or simply eaten as a porridge. During the Edo period, 1603 and 1868, of Japan, knives became widely available, and people began making noodles from the dough.

Making Soba Noodles
The basic recipe for soba noodles is simply buckwheat flour and water, but that can be difficult to work with.  Often the buckwheat flour is mixed with other ingredients to change the flavor, texture and to make the noodles less brittle.  At the Soba Dojo, you’ll see your instructor add in a little white flour to make the noodles a little easier to work with. Often mountain potato is added to enhance the flavor and texture of the noodle. This was the style we used at our restaurant for many years.  Overall, aroma, texture and taste is what makes a good soba noodle.

Join TanpopoStudio’s Culinary Tour of Japan and Learn to Make Soba!