Monday, May 21, 2007

Homemade Soba Noodles With Sesame Dipping Sauce

Japanese soba noodles are often (if not always, I'm not a Japanese food expert) served cold, so they're an excellent choice for Brown Bag Lunch #5. Delicious and wholesome, this is a dish that makes my restaurant-going co-workers green with envy.

Here in Italy, packaged soba noodles are hard to come by, so I decided to make some myself. The combination of all-purpose and buckwheat flours give the noodles a brown-grey cast, almost exactly like Italian Pizzocheri. In fact when Italians ask me about soba, I tell them it's Japanese pizzocheri, and they get it, sort of.

I followed an online recipe that seemed to be genuine and traditional. It called for all-purpose, buckwheat and high-gluten flours plus salt and water. That was it. It produced a very dry dough that I thought would work well. As I rolled it through the pasta machine, it seemed too easily breakable, but I soldiered on. The first soba noodle brown bag lunch was tasty, but by the time the noodles were rolled out and boiled, they had almost all broken into 1-inch pieces. This was worrying to me since I'd read online somewhere that the longer the soba, the longer your life! So, I modified the recipe by adding an egg to the dough to bind the noodles and keep them in long pieces. The egg did the trick and, traditional or not, I'll be using it here on in.

Here's my recipe whech serves two:

1 1/4 cups buckwheat flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup high gluten flour (bread flour)
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
up to 7 tablespoons of cold water
extra all-purpose flour for dusting

Combine flours and salt in the bowl of a food processor pulse to combine. Add the egg and 2 tbsps of water and mix until they are incorporated. Open the food processor, grab some dough and squeeze it between your fingers. If it falls apart in crumbles, add more water one tablespoon at a time. When you have a cohesive dough, let it rest in the processor for 30 minutes.

Take the dough out of the processor and onto a floured wooden board. Cut the dough into 6 pieces and process them through a pasta machine until the 5th setting flouring after each roll-through (for me the 5th is the second to thinnest setting) Flour the lengths of pasta again and process them through the thin spaghetti cutter. Music to cut soba by: "Soba Violence" by the Beastie Boys from the release "Anthology".

Boil for 45 seconds to a minute in abundant salted water. When cooked, run under cold water to chill.

Serve with Sesame dipping sauce:

4 tbsps sushi seasoning (or a combo of rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
1/2 cup minced cucumber
2 tbsps minced chives or green onion
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp sesame seeds

Whisk the first 3 ingredients together and pour onto the cold soba noodles. Sprinkle the opther ingredients on top. Pack into your Beastie Boys lunchbox and enjoy!


Blogger hellomelissa said...

ah, the beastie boys! ch-ch-ch-check it out, susan!

i can buy prepackaged soba, even easier. and easier than that? the cold sesame noodles from the chinese place at the strip mall. :)

looks great, hope it tasted as good a it looked!

3:31 AM  
Blogger Lucy said...

Hi Susan - Christina from A Thinking Stomach sent me here to read about your soba noodle experiment.

Very glad that she did.

Think I'll attempt to make them over the coming weekend. Thank you!

4:01 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Melissa, isn't it great to live in a place where lots of types of "exotic" foods are available? Milan is getting there, I have to say but it sounds like N. Carolina's ahead.

Hi Lucy, Thanks for stopping by (and I'll have to thank Christina for the advertisement). With the egg, there pretty easy to do and yummy.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Beenzzz said...

This looks beyond wonderful!

4:49 PM  
Blogger chemcookit said...

Hey Susan!
Wow, I was just looking for some recipes for the soba noodles I just bought in this wonderful grocery store in Berkeley.. thanks!

Also, I have a favor to ask you: if you're interested, would you like to participate to this new blog event I'm trying to launch? It's called 'fresh produce of the month', and this month theme will be lemon.
I have a post about it on May 19th on my blog. It'd be nice to have some advertisement from some great food blogger like you :)

4:36 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Hats off to you for making homemade soba noodles, Susan! I just made a similar dish today for lunch, but mine were store bought and probably not as good as yours. With the abundance of Asian food markets here in Southern California, I'll probably never be inspired enough to make my own, but I'll know where to come if I do.

5:30 AM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

I feel like kicking myself! The other day, in a spot of spring cleaning, I threw out my packets of "Soba" noodles that I had been hoarding because I wasn't quite sure what to do with them and today I see you have a great-looking recipe for them!


12:39 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Beenzzz, Thanks a lot!

Hi Chem, How great to grocery shop in Berkeley, although I imagine shopping in Torino rivals it. Your lemon blog event sounds like a lot of fun. I'm in!

Hi Susan, Soba noonles are great but I know what you mean. Here in Italy, I haven't done homemade pizza or ice-cream for years with all the great pizzerie and gelateria on every corner.

10:06 PM  

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