Soba noodles offer a smooth, slippery texture that is pleasantly distinct from the noodles familiar in Western dishes.
Soba noodles are slippery-smooth Japanese noodle made from wheat flour
) and buckwheat flour (“soba
” means “buckwheat”). Served both warm and cold, soba noodles are an essential ingredient in a wide range of Japanese dishes.
Noodles were brought from China to Japan by the earliest Japanese
Buddhist priests, who spread the noodles along with Buddhism in the
ninth century. A Zen Buddhist monastery in Asakusa sold buckwheat
noodle dishes to Buddhist pilgrims and gained so much wealth that the
sale was forbidden, seen as threat to the ascetic lifestyle.
Soba noodles can be bought dried, but many people swear by the
superiority of homemade noodles, so seek out a recipe if you have the
extra time to make yours.
Soba is available in stores in several varieties, including cha soba, janejo soba and youmugi soba. Cha soba
contains buckwheat and tea leaves, which turns the soba a green color distinctive from the typical brownish gray. Jenejo soba
is made with wild yam
flour, and youmugi soba
is made with buckwheat and mugwort.
Soba noodles are most likely to be carried in specialty or Asian
markets but can also be found in the ethnic or pasta sections of some
health food stores, natural food stores and grocery stores.
the cheapest brands, as you will be sacrificing too much quality, and
try to find packages of smooth and mostly unbroken noodles (it is
expected that some will break).
When unopened, soba noodles can be stored in a cool, dry place for up
to eight months. Once cooked, they should be consumed as soon as
To prepare soba noodles:
• Add noodles to boiling water just a few at a time.
• Stir water until it returns to a rapid boil so the noodles won’t stick.
• Boil for 8-10 minutes.
• Drain and rinse.
Because of their slippery texture, soba noodles can make you feel like
a fool scrambling to get them into your mouth. Don’t bother trying to
be too graceful, as the traditional Japanese method of eating soba
noodles is to suck loudly, bringing the noodles into the mouth and
swallowing them with some commotion.
If dining out or as a
guest, remember that it is a major faux paus to drink the plain broth
in which soba noodles are sometimes served. Sometimes the broth can be
watered down and then enjoyed, but you might just want to follow
Both soba and the thick, white Japanese wheat noodles called udon share
a slithery, hard texture (as opposed to the pasty texture of Italian
noodles). While significantly different to those who know their
Japanese noodles, they may fill in for each other adequately in some
Soba noodles contain much buckwheat, a gluten-free and wheat
-free carbohydrate. They also contain selenium
and some protein