November is buckwheat harvest season! Please try newly harvested “shin-soba” in this season.
If you are a Japanese soba fan, its good to know that the soba season is coming. Soba is one of traditional noodle dish in Japan and is considered to serve with sushi and tempura. It is a popular dish due to its fast and convenient from long time ago. Removed the hull, soba seed is a raw material and usually grind into soba powder which is the ingredient for soba noodles. The season to harvest buckwheat is in November, and the aroma and taste is very delicate and more flavorful, therefore many soba shops sell “shin-soba” which is soba made with newly harvested buckwheat within the season.
What is Soba（そば）?
Soba is a highly nutritious grain, action of vitamin B1, vitamin B2,vitamin PP and especially rich in vitamin B. It helps better for the blood circulation, appetitive and recover tiredness. Soba contains high protein and selenium, acting as antioxidant and immunity against from disease. In addition, it contains starch and dietary fiber which better sugar control and lowered risk of diabetes. So soba is a very healthy food with energizing and nutritious.
Habits when Japanese eating soba noodles
1. Please do not be hesitate to making a slurping sound while eating soba noodles.
Japanese uses special verb when they describe eating soba. They use verb “啜る（すする susuru）”instead of “食べる （ taberu）” which means slurping sound. Usually making noises while eating is considered a bad manner at the table, but soba is an exception in Japan. The slurping enhances the flavors and bring aroma of soba through air to the nose and mouth. Therefore please don't be hesitate to making a slurping sound.
2. While dipping noodles into the sauce, dip in one third of the noodles only.
The typical cold soba noodles are eaten with a high concentrated soya based or bonito based dipping sauce. Both sauces have stongly flavors. If soba noodles cover all sauce, you might loose chance to taste the aroma and real flavors from soba.
3. Use chopsticks to take a few strands of soba noodles without chewing them.
According to records, “江戸っ子はそばは噛み落とさないもんだ”People of Edo were paticular about how to eat soba for enjoying its natural flavor. Swallowing soba rather than chewing the noodles once putting them in a mouth and do not cut off the noodles by teeth. The first reason is cutting off the noodles by teeth is not tasteful; the second reason is soba noodles usually place in a big wicker basket for Japanese family, and family members take the noodles into their own sauce bowl by chopsticks, the half of noodles will drop into the sauce bowl and make splash if bit off the noodle in the middle.
4. Is there necessary eat soba noodles with wasabi?
Soba noodles have light and natural flavor itself, so you might not taste the real soba aroma if eat it with wasabi? This is similar relationship between wasabi and sashimi. Usually people eat sashimi with wasabi is to cover the fishy taste from the raw fish, but soba has slightly buckwheat aroma therefore you don't have to eat with wasabi. However, the dipping sauce usually made from soya sauce and bonito fish, the using wasabi is mainly to cover the fishy taste from the bonito fish smell. If the dipping sauce is made from soy sauce and white sugar, wasabi is unnecessary for the instance.
If you buy the soba noodles from the supermarkets, it might cost about 100 yen, on the other hand, it might cost around 1,000 yen if you eat in a soba restaurant. What is the difference between them to cause such price differences? Apart from the making soba cost from the professionals, but the main reason is due to its quality and buckwheat ratio. The soba noodles usually can be purchased in supermarkets have “30 percent of buckwheat; and 70 percent of wheat.” (but it doesn't mean the noodles is not tasty)
It usually sells “buckwheat flour 100% : Juwari soba” or “buckwheat flour 80%; and wheat 20% : ni-hachi soba” in a soba restaurant. There is no exactly answer which soba is more tasty and delicious, its depends on personal preference. There is strong buckwheat aroma but might have dry and rough texture for “Juwari soba”. Compare with “Juwari soba”, buckwheat aroma is lesser for “ni-hachi soba”, but the texture is smoother and easy to swallow and chewing.
If you are planning to Japan within the season, try newly harvested “shin-soba” is a strong recommendation. You can have your first bit of soba noodles without dipping sauce, you will definitely feel the aroma of buckwheat fill up your mouth!