Soba is the Japanese name for buckwheat. Traditional Soba noodles are thin noodles made of 100% buckwheat flour. They are delicious in soup or stir-fried dishes.
Buckwheat has many health benefits. It is high in fiber and protein, and rich in iron, magnesium, zinc and vitamin B1. It is also naturally gluten free. Whole grain buckwheat flour retains its natural nutrients and original flavors.
I learned a couple of fun facts of buckwheat only recently. Despite its name, buckwheat is not a wheat and is not closely related to wheat. Instead, it is grain-like seeds that contains no gluten. One of its closest relatives is rhubarb.
Fresh hand-rolled noodles are our family’s favorite. The three boys love the stir-fried noodles with veggies and eggs. In my hometown, a noodle bowl needs no more than a simple sauce with soy sauce and vinegar. Boys seeded cilantro a month ago, and we just had our first harvest this weekend. Now we have the freshest and most fragrant cilantro. Nothing is better than a hearty noodle bowl on a peaceful Memorial day.
Making noodles from 100% buckwheat flour is almost impossible at home, as it has no gluten. Traditional Japanese Soba chefs have their special equipment and techniques passed down from generation to generation. At home, I mixed buckwheat flour with all-purpose white flour in 1:1 ratio, and cut fairly thick noodles that do not break easily.
Homemade Soba Noodles
Fresh hand-rolled noodles made of whole grain buckwheat flour.
- 1 cup whole grain buckwheat flour
- 1 cup all purpose white flour
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup corn starch for dusting
In a large bowl, mix the buckwheat flour and all purpose flour
Add one egg, mix it into the flour using a folk
Gradually sprinkle 1/4 cup water into the flour, while mixing using the folk. This will generate coarse crumbs, instead of a soft dough.
Further mix the crumbs by hand to help distribute liquid more uniformly in the flour. Gather them into a dough and knead for 3 minutes. The dough should be firm without being sticky. It has rough surface like a piece of rock.
Seal the dough into a ziploc bag. Let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Take the dough out. It feels softer after resting. Knead for 5 minutes. The dough becomes smooth and more elastic.
Seal the dough into the ziploc bag and let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Put the dough on a cutting board, and press it down into a round disk using your palm. Dust the board and both sides of the dough with corn starch.
Using the rolling pin, roll out the dough from the center outwards in all directions.
Once the dough is rolled into a sheet with 1/2 inch thickness, cut the sheet into 4 portions. Dust with more corn starch as needed.
Roll out each sheet into the preferred thickness. Fold and overlay them on top of each other. The vertical width of the sheets should be less than the length of your kitchen knift. Dust between layers with corn starch as needed to prevent them from sticking to each other.
Cut the sheets into 1/8 inch-wide noodles.
To cook the noodles, bring water to boil in a large pot. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of cooking oil to the water. Add noodles into the boiling water and cook at medium high heat for 3 minutes. Drain the noodles and mix in 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Add sauce and sprinkle with fresh herbs.
- It is important to rest the dough for at least 30 minutes each time. Plan ahead.
- Eggs can be replaced with water.
- Corn starch is much more effective in preventing dough from being sticky than flour.
- Traditional Japanese buckwheat flour is hard to find in my town. The organic whole wheat flour from Bob’s Red Mill is more readily available. The dough is very easy to work with and it makes perfect noodles.