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Monday, May 16, 2011

How to cook Zaru Soba




Kazuyo brought back some soba from Japan, three packs for me :-)! I love soba, the Japanese buckwheat noodles that can be eaten cold or hot.



When we were living in Japan my husband did a lot of editorial work for Kodansha International, and among the books he worked on there was this one: The Book of Soba by James Udesky. The book tells you how to make your fresh soba, but also how to cook the dry one, plus it has some recipes, some history and nutritional info. I like it.



This is my soba set: plates with fitting straw mats (zaru soba is served in baskets or on mats, to keep it fresh and drained), plus some matching soba dipping bowls. I also have some tea cups with the same pattern: dragonflies!



Zaru soba is cold soba topped with nori (I cut a sheet of nori in small pieces with a pair of scissor) and served with a simple dipping sauce and garnish. One thing that I learned form The Book of Soba is that soba is not cooked like pasta. The only thing in common with pasta is that you should use the biggest pot you have and have enough water as if you were to cook spaghetti. But don't add salt!

Bring the water to boil: add the soba, stir gently. When the water starts to froth add half a cup of cold water and lower the heat. Do this three times. After the third time your soba should be ready. Drain and collect the cooking water to make soup, if you like (full of starch and vitamins and minerals) and place the soba in a bowl with ice water. Or just rinse under cold water (I prefer this way, the soba may not be perfect but I cannot bear to loose anymore starch!



Place your cold and rinsed soba in a soba basket or on your soba plate (lined with the soba mat). If you don't have a soba mat use your sushi rolling mat. Top with nori. Here I put some daikon salad with ume mayo, and sesame capsicums on the side too, they are not traditional, they were just left overs from my Japanese cooking class, but they paired well with the cold soba.


For the dipping sauce I prepare a base broth by simmering a piece of kombu for 30 minutes in water, then I add a little soy sauce (most would use bonito flakes). Let the broth cool down: this is a cold dipping sauce. Before serving put a tiny bit of wasabi in each dipping bowls, and a little grated daikon or radish, and then some chopped spring onions or chives. Pour the broth over and stir. For a fancy dinner place all the garnishes in small plates and let your guests mix their own sauce. To eat pick up the soba with your chopsticks and dip into your dipping sauce, then slurp everything up. You can make a slurping noise too, but I am not good at that!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


23 comments:

  1. I have never tasted soba noodles before..it looks really yum..btw that plate is gorgeous.

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  2. To the leftover sauce you can add some of the cooking water of the soba (provided you saved it...) ca. in 1:1 proportion and you will have a delicious soup to finish up. This way you will have less washing up to do, as well... :)

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  3. anche a casa mia secca sempre il barattolo di nutella, ma ogni tanto parte a tutti il trip della nutella e per 2/3 giorni solo nutella, poi basta, con quella crostata li ho nauseati....sappiamo tutti che non è cioccolata e quando vogliamo mangiare la vera cioccolata compro quella Modica che io adoro...questo post tuo ultimo non l'ho capito, ma pazienza, ho capito solo che hai cucinato gli spaghetti cinesi....

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  4. I LOVE soba noodles too. When it's cold outside, I just want to cook it!

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  5. Yep Bence, great for soup, and actually, because it has a lot of starch you can use it to wash the dishes: it takes the grease off!

    Tamara, sono spaghetti giapponesi stavolta :-)

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  6. Ahh, I haven't made soba for years. Must try it again. Thanks for the reminder.

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  7. Japanese noodles are always wonderful.. Lovely!

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  8. Li ho visti fare in un documentario, davvero affascinante. Bellissimo post, un abbraccio.

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  9. non ho la fortuna di avere qualcuno in giappone che me la mandi o me la porti, e mi arrangio ad acquistarla qui, dove la trovo. la adoro anch'io, con le alghe nori o in zuppa e più ancora ripassata nel wok con carote e Dulse a fiocchi e tamari.....una meraviglia di gusto e leggerezza :))

    bellissimo il tuo servizio di piatti!
    Bibi

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  10. anche a me piace un sacco. ma non la trovo facilmente. grazie dei consigli però!
    bacioni

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  11. Qui le trovo, ma di solito non mi piace la marca, e poi per farle fredde ci vuole proprio una buona manca, come per la pasta, perche' si sente veramente ill sapore (visto che il condimento e' minimo). Quando la mia amica doveva partire le ho chiesto se me ne portava un pacchetto lei, e me ne ha portati 3! Piacciono a tutta la famiglia, e il primo lo abbiamo preparato la sera stessa (questo).

    Il servizio di piatti e scodelle e' fatto apposta per mangiare questa pietanza, cucinata proprio cosi'. Lo uso poco ovviamente, ma a volte uso le scodelle per i budini ed i piatti per i buffet. :-)

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  12. soba noodle is favorite, I need to try now. I have one packet in pantry.

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  13. wow- neatly described- you have covered all its aspects- from taste, to visual appeal!

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  14. i love soba noodles, and all your facts are fantastic.

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  15. I have never had soba...but it does look yummmy...thank you for sharing. xoxxo Hugs

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  16. I love soba too, especially cold soba on a hot Summer's day! Lovely bowls too! :D

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  17. Bel post, ottimi e prelibati gli spaghetti giapponesi, ciao.

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  18. Oooh, I want some bowls like that! How fab and funky!

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  19. What a lovely way to serve soba. Your photos get better and better. These noodles look delicious. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  20. Those noodles are beautiful...so pretty uncooked and delicious-looking on the plate. I love those dragonfly plates too!

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  21. Ume mayo... What? Give us some details, please ;-) Love your zaru soba set with dragonflies, it's so nice!

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  22. Yari, it is mayonnaise mixed with crushed umeboshi, very nice, and you could use vegan mayo :-).

    Just cut the daikon into julienne strips and dress with th ume mayo.

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  23. I'm learning to cook japanis food and I'm really happy to find this recipe on your blog! THANK YOU!

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