Cook’s Cupboard: Buckwheat Soba

Japan has a love affair with these thin, hand-cut noodles, and you may also develop an infatuation once you’ve tried them. Soba means buckwheat in Japanese, and soba noodles are traditionally made using buckwheat, rather than plain flour. Confusingly though, some ‘soba’ noodles use ordinary wheat; check the packet. Buckwheat boasts beneficial flavanoids and B vitamins not found in standard flour. Dried soba noodles can be bought in some supermarkets and at Asian grocers, conveniently bundled in single servings and often made with organic ingredients. Drop the noodles into boiling water and let cook for only 3–4 minutes (or they will become sticky and too soft) then quickly plunge noodles in cool water and drain well, squeezing out excess water with your hands. Use soba noodles as a base for yummy cold noodle salads with all manner of ingredients, constructed artfully. Here’s one idea to play around with: steamed bok choy, cooked shelled edamame, a little finely chopped red onion, mung bean sprouts, sliced poached chicken and a garnish of spring onion curls and thin strips of nori (dried seaweed). Dress with a mix of soy sauce, mirin, ginger, sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds, and serve.

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