Food Knowledge

What is Soba?

What is Soba?

Soba (蕎麦) is a thick, light brown Japanese noodle that’s made from buckwheat, water, and sometimes wheat flour. It’s a delicious, traditional meal that’s sold throughout Japan. Soba can be eaten hot or cold with many varieties available, depending on the region. Also, soba has a large selection of toppings from vegetables and seafood to fried batter.

What is the meaning of Soba?

During New Year in Japan, it’s a tradition for Japanese families to eat Toshikoshi Soba (year-crossing noodle). Toshikoshi soba is simply soba in a hot brothy soup, typically topped with green onions, dried seaweed (wakame), and white fish cake (kamaboko).

Soba is eaten on New Year because it has many good meanings. It’s said that the long strands of soba symbolize a long life. Also, the noodles are cut easily, which is like moving on from the past for a fresh start and symbolize good fortune. Thus, soba became a simple, warm, and healthy meal to begin the New Year.

What are soba noodles made from?

Traditional soba is made from buckwheat, which differs from other types of Japanese noodles, udon and ramen that are made from wheat flour. However, soba may be mixed with wheat flour to make it softer.

Soba noodles can also be mixed with other ingredients for extra color and flavor. Examples include:

• Matcha Soba
Soba noodles are mixed with green tea powder to create green noodles strands.

• Plum Tea Soba
Soba noodles can also be mixed with plum to create pink noodles strands.

What is men-tsuyu (dipping sauce)?

The dipping sauce that comes with cold soba is called men-tsuyu or tsuyu. Tsuyu is made from a dashi-based soup, which consists mainly of dried fish flakes (katsuobushi)) and dried kelp (kombu). Mirin (rice wine), sake, and soy sauce (shoyu) help intensify the flavor.

Other condiments such as wasabi, green onion, and radish are usually placed beside the dipping sauce and can be mixed into the sauce.

Sometimes, restaurants may offer a teapot that is full of water used to boil the noodles. This water is meant to be poured into the leftover tsuyu or dipping sauce to be eaten as a soup.

What is soba broth?

During winter, Japanese people usually eat hot soba, which is soba in a hot soup. The soup uses a dashi base, similar to the dipping sauce. However, the hot soup has a milder flavor and is more diluted.

What are the types of Soba?

There are a large variety of soba with different toppings to choose from. Soba is often named after its topping, which is why there are so many types of soba. Some popular soba toppings are fried tempura, tofu, roasted seaweed (nori), herring (nishin), egg, and mushroom.

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