Recently my supervisor invited me to his house to play Wii with his kids and have handmade soba for dinner. We had gone out for soba lunch before and talked about how I would miss fresh soba in America because I can’t get it there. He said he likes to make soba a few times a year and would like us to join him for dinner. After we arrived he set up the Wii and we played a few games together before he snuck away to make the soba. I was a little distracted by the games, so I didn’t get to see the whole noodle-making process, but here are some photos that I was able to get between turns on Wii Sports.
First he mixed the buckwheat flour, a little bit of wheat flour for elasticity, and water in a large, flat enameled bowl. Then he kneaded the mix together to make a dough (sorry, I didn’t take any pictures up to that point). Then he got out a large wooden board (it must have been at least a meter square), put it on the dining table and rolled out the dough. Occasionally he would roll the dough around the long rolling pin and rotate it. After it was rolled thinly enough, he folded it into a packet, gave it a few more rolls to press it to an even thickness and cut the noodles. Soba cutting knives are big specialty knives that remind me a little bit of Klingon blades from Star Trek. They have a long, flat cutting surface and your hand is positioned over the midpoint of the blade instead of behind it as it would be on a chef’s knife. They look pretty scary, but the shape and heft of the knife really work well for cutting noodles.
While my supervisor made the noodles, his wife harvested some vegetables from the kitchen garden and made tempura of shishito, okra, shiso, and chicken. One of my shishito was what’s known as a “bomb pepper.” Even though they come from the same plant, most are mild but some are really spicy.
copyright 2008 LMS