There is a variety of noodles in the world. The top 3 noodles in Japan are Ramen, Udon and Soba. Soba has the longest history and is popular either among Japanese or foreigners.
Soba is made of buckwheat flour. These days it’s getting easier to get Soba even outside Japan. More and more people are interested in soba for its high nutrition.
While you can make pasta only with a pasta maker and bowl, you need several tools to make Soba. Today we will show you how to make Soba at home and required tools.
What is important when kneading Soba is how you maintain and enrich its flavor, that is, how you manage to put water in it uniformly. This is the key to making soba with good flavor and texture. To do this efficiently and at professional level, you need 5 tools: Konebachi, Mendai, Menbo, Komaita and Sobakiri Knife.
Konebachi is a bowl to mix water and buckwheat flour. It is shallower than ones for pasta, and for this reason it can mix water more uniformly.
Menbo is a rolling pin to flatten Soba dough. It is thicker than ones for pasta.
Mendai is a wooden stand to flatten Soba dough on.
Komaita is a cutting guide board to cut Soba dough at same intervals.
Sobakiri Knife is a knife optimized for cutting Soba.
We will explain the steps to make Soba. This time we will use 400g of buckwheat flour, additional 100g of buckwheat flour (for preventing the dough from sticking), 180 to190 cc of water and make 4 servings.
Put buckwheat flour in a Konebachi and quickly mix it with both hands as if writing the number "8". It is important to put half of water first and then put a little by little (over 2 to 3 times). Buckwheat flour will gradually get together and become small pieces and then stone-sized pieces. Take care to make the pieces as same size as possible. This process is called "Mizumawashi".
When you do Mizumawashi, wrung out a cloth or towel and put it under Konebachi to fix its position.
Once water is well mixed with buckwheat flour, then knead the dough as if push the hand into it from front to back. Keep kneading for 5 to 10 minutes.
Once the dough gets glossy, make shape it like a cone. Pinch the seam and pull it upward to make an apex. Then flip the dough down and flatten it with palms.
First, put extra flour over the dough and extend the dough by hands. Then further extend it with a rolling pin until it becomes 1 cm thick.
Put extra flour more over the dough. Roll the dough around the pin and extend it from front to back. Repeat extending, rolling, spreading the dough several times. Then the dough will be uniformly flattened and thin.
Put extra flour over the extended dough with and fold it.
Use Komaita as a cutting guide and cut the dough at same intervals. You can cut it with thickness you like. 2 mm is common thickness.
Put extra flour over the cut noodles and wrap them with newspaper. Leave it in a refrigerator over night, then the water uniformly spread in it to produce good texture.
When you boil the noodles, make sure to prepare enough amount of water. Once the water boils, add little water (to prevent it boiling over) and keep boiling for 1 to 2 and a half minutes. You can adjust boiling time as you like.
Generally, Soba dipping sauce is made from “Kaeshi” and “Dashi (broth)”. The followings are the ingredients for Kaeshi: 500ml of soy sauce, 100ml of Mirin (sweat sake), 100g of sugar. Put them in a pan to boil and remove scum. Cool down and leave it in a cool dark place for up to a week.
For Dashi, you can use dried bonito, dried kelp, dried small sardines or whatever you like. Mix Kaeshi and Dashi in the proportion of 1 to 3.
Or you can just use noodle soup base from supermarket and mix it with Dashi, which would taste good enough.
The followings are good for condiment: Wasabi, chopped seaweed, grated ginger, Myoga (Japanese ginger) and chopped leek.
There are a lot of Soba chefs in Japan. As they have own style or belief, there is a variety of Soba, which is one of the reasons why Soba culture is interesting. The aforementioned tools are not only good for enjoying Soba at home but also helpful for restaurants to develop new menus.
Why don’t you try making Soba with over 9000 years history at home?