We usually enjoy eating hot noodles. But during hot weather, we might wonder whether cold noodles are a good idea. There are plenty of Japanese noodles, and some of them can be served cold!
One of the most interesting noodles of Japan is Soba. Soba is a nutritious noodle made of buckwheat, making it gluten-free. It’s roughly as thick as spaghetti. Buckwheat is unrelated to wheat, it is a grain-like seed. Thus, Soba noodles can be made solely of buckwheat flour and water. Although some kinds of Soba noodles use wheat flour as well.
Soba noodles are easily becoming a favourite in Japan. It can be found nationwide, from fast food restaurants to expensive specialty restaurants. Hence, dried Soba noodles are available on the markets with instant noodle broth, so people can make it at home.
The tradition of eating Soba noodles arose in the Edo period (from 1603-1868). At that time, each neighborhood in Edo (Tokyo) had one or two Soba establishments that are similar to modern cafes where locals would enjoy a casual meal.
Talking about tradition, Soba noodles are traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve in most areas of Japan. This tradition survives until now. In the Tokyo area, there was also a tradition of giving out Soba noodles to new neighbours after a house move. Yet, this tradition practice is now quite rare.
Interestingly, Soba noodles can be prepared in various hot and cold dishes. Either hot in a noodle soup, or chilled with a dipping sauce. Typically eaten with chopsticks, it is acceptable to slurp the Soba noodles noisily.
During the winter in Japan, hot Soba noodles are enjoyed with a soy-based dashi broth. It is often served as a noodle soup in a bowl of hot dipping sauce as well, yet the hot dipping sauce is thinner than the dipping sauce used for chilled Soba. The hot Soba noodles are also often garnished with sliced long onion and mixed chili powder.
As for the cold Soba noodles, it is often served drained and chilled during the summer season. Indeed, many opinions from Soba noodle eaters think that these noodles are best served cold, as we can experience the unique texture of it. Letting Soba noodles soak in hot broth can change their consistency.
Craving for chilled Soba noodles now? Chilled Soba is usually served on a bamboo tray, garnished with dried seaweed, accompanied with a dipping sauce. The dipping sauce (tsuyu) is made of sweetened soy sauce, a strong mixture of dashi (basic Japanese broth), and mirin. Wasabi and scallions are also mixed into the tsuyu.
Simply use your chopsticks while eating chilled Soba noodles. Pick up a small amount of Soba noodles from the tray, and dip it in the cold dipping sauce before eating it.
Sakae Sushi offers a unique Soba noodle at our restaurant: Cha Soba (cold green tea buckwheat noodles). You can try it with our Yasi Tempura Gozen. Order on our delivery website to enjoy cold noodles at home!