I was first introduced to cold soba by my former flatmate and friend Pauline. Her brother Benjamin studied Japanese and got a job with Japan Airlines back in 2000, thanks to which they travelled to Japan that summer. On her return, she had many stories to tell about the kawaii culture, architecture and food! Amongst other things, she brought cold soba back and prepared it for us.
I have since, had the chance to eat soba many times and I love it. Being married to a Japanese , you can imagine that we do eat japanese food rather often, and this is a favourite for sunday brunch.
It is very easy to prepare as all you need is soba, soup stock, wasabi and (ideally) spring onions.
First you need to boil the soba noodles in water. When cooked, pass them through cold water to cool down and stop the cooking . Cooling keeps them loose.
Lay the noodles on a bamboo mat or plate arranged in small rolls (this will help ease the eating )
For the cold soup, mix two parts of soup stock with one of water, slice a spring onion per pot , add the spring onion to the soup stock and finally add as much wasabi as your taste determines.
To eat, you deep the noodles on the soup and enjoy!
In Japan, many have tempura with the soba and if you are very lucky, in places like Shujenji where you can find traditional soba noodles (only), they add a white root vegetable to the soup too.
Note: it is typical to keep the water in which you boil the soba noodles and serve it to you as a top up for the soup. It always comes on a red teapot so bear it in mind if you are presented with one.
Japanese soup stock comes in a litre bottle. (You can make it, of course) It is very useful for noodle soups , agedashi tofu or even cold soba and is definitely an ingredient worth keeping in the cupboard. If you don’t cook very often, you can also buy grains of dashi soup which you can hydrate when it comes to cooking, though this is not ideal for cold soba. This is the one we buy at our favourite supermarket : Rice Wine
And in terms of soba noodles , there are many brands. Some more expensive than others and some with stronger taste (darker) than others. I am showing this one only as an example but I have found out that everyone has a different taste so it’s worth trying a few to find your match.
Photograph by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
Recipe by Toru Saeki
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