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Soba, what is it,how to cook it and where to buy it. Tips for recipes and useful info.
Soba, what is it
Theresobais a traditional Japanese pasta made frombuckwheattherefore naturally gluten-free. Buckwheat, in fact, despite its name, has nothing to do with grasses.
Soba has played a fundamental role in the Japanese diet. Historically, it has spread mainly to tackle the beriberi epidemic, a disease linked to the deficiency of vitamin B1. In Japan, where the populations had a diet based almost exclusively on rice, vitamin B1 deficiency was widespread.
Toshikoshi soba and hikkoshi soba
The use of thesobadates back to the Edo period, between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Also in this period the tradition oftoshikoshi soba. Tradition has it that a bowl of soba is served during the New Year's Eve dinner. The long spaghettisobahe was seen as the bearers of strength, endurance and longevity. The belief that soba could be a good omen for the new year is linked to the cultivation of buckwheat. Buckwheat is a very hardy plant, able to survive even the harsh winter temperatures.
That oftoshikoshi sobait is not the only tradition linked to the longbuckwheat spaghetti. Once, in Tokyo, with the ritual ofhikkoshi soba the new neighbors were welcomed: a plate of soba was offered to the newcomers and took advantage of the opportunity to share a moment of cordiality. This practice has now been almost completely lost.
How to cook soba
To best enjoy soba, you need to consume it using classic Japanese chopsticks. In winter, soba is perfect for soup. Soba soup is made with dashi broth and shoyu soy sauce. Just like Japanese miso soup, so too soba in broth you can use, as an alternative to dashi, you can use niboshi (a type of fish broth), kombu (dried kombu seaweed broth), katsuobushi (other fish broth) or Hoshi shiitake (shiitake mushroom broth).
In summer, soba is served at room temperature. The "cold recipes" are the best for enjoying the authentic flavor of soba. Generally, soba broth has a consistency that penalizes the organoleptic properties of the soba. In summer, soba is served drained at room temperature on a bamboo basket (Zaru Soba).
ThereZaru Sobait is definitely thererecipebased onsobamost common in Japan. It is prepared by adding nori seaweed leaves and tsuyu sauce. Tsuyu sauce is a dressing made from dashi, sweet soy sauce (satojoyu) and mirin. In Japan, theZaru Sobait is accompanied by two bowls, one containing wasabi and the other shallot.
There are many ways tocooking sobaand there are many traditional recipes. Therecold sobait can be served with tororo (a Japanese yam puree), oroshi (grated daikon), natto (fermented soya) and okura (fresh okra slices).
Soba, where to buy it
Traditionally thesobait is prepared exclusively with buckwheat, in Italy, however, mainly one type ofsobamixed, given by wheat flour and buckwheat flour.
In Japan, there are several varieties of noodles similar to soba but made with other ingredients. For example, yakisoba recipes, shina soba and chuka soba, involve the use of wheat flour (they are more similar to ramen). With the term drysobawe mean spaghetti similar to noodles but made exclusively with buckwheat.
Where to buy soba? You can find it in shops specializing in Asian gastronomy or by taking advantage of online purchases.
On Amazon, an original soba package (100% buckwheat) can be bought for € 8.80 with free shipping. The original soba does not contain gluten.
Also on Amazon, you can buy a variant of the soba, the one that has spread mainly in Italy (therefore made with wheat flour and buckwheat). The price, for a 460 g pack, is € 6.80 with free shipping.
For all information on the products mentioned, please refer to the Amazon pages dedicated to the product:
- I know wheat and buckwheat ba
- So original ba, only buckwheat (gluten-free and organic)