Zaru Soba

August 5, 2009

Fresh Soba

Fresh Soba

Buckwheat is a protein-rich seed that’s related to rhubarb, and when ground it’s a flavourful gluten-free flour. I wanted to make chilled zaru soba but I had difficulty finding soba noodles that were made entirely with buckwheat. Admittedly, I only looked in two stores for all-buckwheat soba before I decided to try to make my own. I bought Anita’s Buckwheat Flour in the second store. Zaru soba is traditionally served on a bamboo tray, or zaru, with a small dish of cold dipping broth and assorted accompaniments. I was really pleased at what a lovely dough this made. I was concerned about the lack of gluten in buckwheat, as gluten is the protein that contributes to elasticity in dough. I needn’t have worried. This is one of the easiest, nicest, silkiest doughs I’ve ever worked with, and probably very good for a beginner to try.

Serves 4

2 cups buckwheat flour

3/4 – 1 cup water, as needed

That’s it for the soba ingredient list. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, measure 3/4 of a cup of water into the buckwheat and mix with a fork, it will clump together, more or less. If your dough is ultra crumbly, mix in a tablespoon or more of water. If it is too sticky, add a bit more buckwheat. Turn out onto a buckwheat-floured surface and knead lightly several times. Dough will come together into a nice, smooth ball within a minute. Now roll out. I used a rolling pin but if you have a pasta machine then use that. Roll a large rectangle approximately 16″ x 30″ and then cut thin strips of noodles using a pastry wheel or a knife. Your large pot of water will likely be boiling now, turn down to a simmer and carefully add about half of the buckwheat noodles. They cook up quickly, and float to the surface when they’re done. Scoop out with a large strainer and gently, thoroughly rinse under cold water. Drain well. Repeat with remaining noodles. Divide noodles amongst four zaru’s (highly unlikely) or four soup plates (more likely). Serve with cold dipping broth and assorted garnish.

Green Garnish

Shades of Green

Makes 4 cups of broth, or ichiban-dashi (1st brewed soup stock)

1 – 8″ strip of kombu (dried kelp)

1 oz katsuobushi shavings, or bonito flakes – this is equivalent to a good handful

Measure two cups of water into a medium-sized pot. Add konbu and allow to simmer for about ten minutes. Remove from heat and stir in katsuobushi. Let steep for several minutes before straining. If you want, you could make a secondary broth called niban-dashi (2nd brewed soup stock). I’m a bit sheepish about the fact that I’ve only made niban-dashi once, I usually discard the kelp and bonito. Now add two icy cold cups of water to your dashi. There – you just made dashi! This easy and classic stock is the base for many Japanese soups. To make the dipping broth mix in:

1/4 cup tamari soy sauce

2 tablespoons agave

Serve in a small dish alongside your cold soba noodles with assorted garnish. I enjoyed mine with wasabi, nori, green onion and cold steamed radish greens.

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4 Responses to “Zaru Soba”

  1. Julie said

    Finally a guilt-free (and non-bloat inducing) use for that pasta maker that has been gathering dust. Another lovely post Dawne.

  2. alisa said

    Thanks for the ichiban-dashi recipe! I’ve never made it from scratch…..have only used the instant kind. Can’t wait to try!

  3. […] bonito flakes. I used sesame seeds because I didn’t have bonito, I used them up when I made zaru soba. And yes, I was too lazy to go to Konbiniya, my nearby Japanese convenience store. If you say […]

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