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Sonoko Sakai's Nihachi-Style Soba

Soba noodles made by Sonoko Sakai | Still from The Migrant Kitchen
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In Japan, soba noodles are a serious matter. Great soba restaurants are found through word of mouth and are a highlight of a meal. Learn how to make your own with the help of whole grain activist and Japanese culinary expert, Sonoko Sakai.

Serves 4

Learn more about Japanese cuisine on "The Migrant Kitchen." Watch S2 E3: Omotenashi.
Omotenashi

INGREDIENTS
12 ounces fine sobakoh, buckwheat flour     
4 ounces all-purpose flour
1 cup of water

1 cup of flour for Tapioca starch 

The basic measurement for Nihachi style soba is 8 parts sobakoh, buckwheat flour and 2 parts all-purpose flour.  Soba grade buckwheat flour, sobakoh, can be purchased in Japanese markets such as Mitsuwa, Marukai and Nijiya. Look for Cold Mountain Sobakoh and Nijiya Sobakoh.  You can also buy Nihachi style Sobakoh online from Anson Mills.

PREPARATIONS

1. In a large size bowl, combine buckwheat flour and all-purpose flour with your hands until evenly mixed. 

2. Pour 90 percent of the water over the flour. Reserve 10 percent and use as needed to shape the dough.  Using the tips of your fingers, quickly toss the flours with the water until crumbly like a coffee cake topping. 

3. Press the crumbly dough and firmly knead until the surface is soft, smooth and without cracks. This will take about five minutes, depending on the quality of the flour and amount of pressure applied. If the dough feels dry, lightly wet the tips of your fingers with the remaining water, and brush them against the surface of the dough as you knead.  Shape the dough into a disk, about ½-inch thick.    

4. Dust the dough with a pinch of starch. Roll the dough, using a thin rolling pin, using back and forth strokes, rotating the dough into a rectangular shape and flatten to 1/16-inch thick.  

5. Generously sprinkle more starch on your work surface and the sheet to prevent from sticking while you are cutting the noodles. Fold the sheet in half. Then fold the dough in half again, so that it is folded in quarters.

6. To cut the dough, use a sharp Chef’s knife.  Slice the dough into thin noodles, about 1/16 inch thick. You can use a ruler as a cutting guide, if you like. 

7. Transfer the noodles to a box and cover with plastic wrap or lid and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Sonoko Sakai making soba | Courtesy of Life & Thyme
Sonoko Sakai making soba | Courtesy of Life & Thyme

INSTRUCTIONS

1. To cook the noodles: Boil water in a large pot over high heat. Gently drop the soba noodles into the boiling water. 

2. Bring the water to a rolling boil again. The noodles will take about 60 to 90 seconds to cook, depending on the thickness. Scoop out the noodles from the bowl of water and immediately drain then rinse the noodles under fresh running cold water. Give the noodles a good rinse to remove surface starch. 

3. Serve the noodles as a salad or in a hot soup with meat and vegetable toppings.  

Top Image: Soba noodles made by Sonoko Sakai | Courtesy of Life & Thyme

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