Thursday, February 7, 2008

Homemade Buckwheat Soba Noodles

cooked soba noodles

You may remember the “mysterious package” that arrived last October. Well, as it happens, I received the pasta roller under the condition that I must master its usage in order to lavish my parents with meals of fresh pasta. I was able to partially fulfill this requirement over Christmas but my skills have greatly improved since then. Hopefully, the next time I visit the folks, I’ll be able to treat them to many a starchy delight! The first recipe I plan to cook for them is homemade buckwheat soba noodles.

I’ve harbored a deep obsession with buckwheat soba since reading about it in Eiji Yoshikawa’s samurai epic Musashi. In the novel, the eponymous hero, Musashi, visits the grand city of Edo for the first time and is astonished at the ease with which he can procure a bowl of delicious soba noodles. Having lived the entirety of his life in the country, Musashi describes that while growing up, making a bowl of soba entailed planting the wheat in the fall and harvesting it in the spring, then milling the grain, making the noodles and finally enjoying it… 9 months later.

I developed a profound appreciation for this noodle after reading Musashi’s description and have been hooked ever since.

Fresh Buckwheat Soba—No Farming Necessary!
½ Cup buckwheat flour
½ Cup wheat flour
1 Cup all purpose flour
2 eggs
1 Teaspoon of salt
3-6 Tablespoons of water

buckwheat soba ingredients

Make the Dough
Combine the three types of flour, the eggs, salt, and three tablespoons of water in a food processor and pulse until it gains a sandy texture.

pasta dough mixed

Try pressing it between your thumb and forefinger to see if it will hold together. If not, add a tablespoon of water (or more) and pulse again until it reaches this consistency.

pasta dough pressed

Remove the blade of the food processor and empty the contents into a large bowl. Use your hands to squeeze, kneed, and form the dough into a ball. Kneed the dough for around 5-7 minutes until it is a somewhat glossy ball, cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.

buckwheat pasta dough ball

Make the Noodles:
Divide the dough into fourths, remove one of the sections (while keeping the remaining dough covered) and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is a little less than ½ an inch thick. Form the dough into a square, set your pasta roller to the widest setting, 1 on the KitchenAid, and roll it through (the pasta will take on kind of a glossy, taffy-ish look and feel). Fold the dough in half and roll it through again. Set the pasta roller to the next thinnest setting, 2, and roll it through a couple of times. Repeat this process three more times, until you have rolled the pasta through the 4th thinnest setting, or number 5 on a KitchenAid.

At this point, I like my noodles to be about as wide as the pasta roller itself, which can be achieved by simply folding the noodle in half long-ways and rolling it through the pasta roller until it reaches the desired width.

Lay the uncut noodle on a lightly floured surface and replace the pasta roller with the spaghetti cutter. To keep your noodles from sticking together, apply a very light coating of flour to both sides of the uncut noodle.

buckwheat soba noodle

Run the noodle through the spaghetti cutter and allow the new noodles to form a nest at the base of the KitchenAid.

Repeat the procdure above for the other 3/4s of the dough (1 quarter at a time). Don’t worry, you will have the hang of it at this point and the remaining 3/4s will go much quicker.

buckwheat soba noodles uncooked

Yay! You now have a batch of fresh soba! You can freeze these noodles for use within a couple of days or throw it straight into a pot of boiling water.

Boil the noodles for 2-4 minutes until perfectly al dente and enjoy! These noodles are fantastic as a sesame noodle salad!

buckwheat soba sesame noodles