(Cold buckwheat noodles)
Soba noodles first popped up in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868), where it popularized in Tokyo. Thinner than their cousin udon, soba is known for its unique buckwheat composition. Rich in vitamin B1 and all essential eight amino acids, traits not typically found in wheat or rice noodles, soba later caught a rep as a health food in other parts of the world.
Traditionally soba is eaten in two different ways; hot steeped in a savory, tsuyu broth, or as zaru soba consumed in the warmer seasons. Though I had a hard time deciding between which of the two ways I wanted to go, I decided to opt for the more weather appropriate zaru. Cooked, chilled, and drained, zaru soba is served cold alongside a salty, soy dipping sauce. As a long time lover of all noodles, I was eager to curl up with a bowl of refreshing soba in the middle of some very serious summer heat.
Initially reminiscent of spaghetti in shape and texture, these noodles proved to be unlike any other I had tried within my second mouthful. With a slight smokiness and chewy bite, these noodles paired perfectly with the briny dipping sauce. The pronounced umami flavors in the sauce, softened by the coolness of the chilled noodles, created for a perfectly balanced plate. Definitely the meal to reach for when you need to find some inner zen.