What Is Buckwheat Noodles?

You want to purchase soba, those slurpable, slick noodles that you have been daydreaming about eating in soups. You’ve exaggerated it: You’re sporting your finest sweatpants with the best elastic. Lizzo is thumping in your ears, reminding you that you can accomplish anything. You could have known you were 100% that cook without even taking a DNA test. * (*You know the lyric. ).

You enter the supermarket, stroll over to the noodle section, and then you realize you have no idea where to begin. Don’t worry. We’ve got you.

First, know the basics. Soba noodles are a type of Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour, water, and occasionally a small amount of whole-wheat flour to prevent the noodles from wilting. Making soba by hand is a very difficult process that craftspeople study for years. But even though the best soba is made in small batches and sold fresh, you can easily find it at the grocery store for weeknight meals.

Then, know what to look for. In general, the list of ingredients should be brief and always include buckwheat flour as one of the first ingredients. A high buckwheat-to-whole-wheat flour ratio is desired; the nihachi-style noodles should have a buckwheat content of 70 to 80 percent. Anything with a higher buckwheat content has a higher chance of crumbling while cooking. However, if you use too little buckwheat, your noodles will not taste as nutty and will be more prone to bloating and gumminess.

Depending on the brand and variety, this buckwheat to whole-wheat flour ratio can change significantly. But a good rule of thumb is that the soba will be a darker shade of gray-brown the more buckwheat there is in it.

Although the editors of our Test Kitchen aren’t particularly picky when purchasing dried soba, we frequently choose Hakubaku Organic Soba as a consistent, dependable alternative without additional stabilizers.

Now, cook it carefully. Just before you’re ready to eat, cook a few batches of noodles in lightly salted boiling water. Make sure to leave plenty of space for the cooking noodles to swirl around the pot freely so that they don’t tangle into a sticky mess because soba benefits from space.

The thinner the soba, the faster it will cook. Although soba typically cooks in 3-5 minutes, never for longer, always follow the cooking instructions on your soba’s package. The best way to avoid things glomming up while cooking is to be extremely watchful. Stay by the stove after dropping the noodles into the boiling water. Even if it is objectively true that you and Jharrel Jerome would enjoy wonderful Saturday afternoons in sweats, now is not the time to go get your phone from another room or daydream about how great you and Jharrel Jerome would look together. Pull them out after a few minutes and serve your noodles right away.

Drain the noodles, give them a cold water rinse, and then submerge them in an ice bath if things do become gummy. In addition to washing some of the starch away, this will halt the cooking process.

You’re now prepared to slurp and swig your way to blissful soba bliss. Go forth with pride, you soba star you, whether you’re incorporating these noodles into a delectably chilled noodle salad or topping it with crispy tofu cubes.

Soba Noodles Contain Potent Plant Compounds That Have Health Benefits

It has been demonstrated that consuming buckwheat improves heart health, cancer prevention, inflammation, and blood sugar. This may be partially attributed to the fiber and plant compounds found in the seed, such as rutin and other antioxidants. (7, 8, 9, 10)

A review of 15 studies found that eating at least 40 grams of buckwheat every day for up to 12 weeks reduced total cholesterol and triglycerides on average by 19 mg/dL in healthy people and 22 mg/dL in people at increased heart disease risk (11).

The rutin in buckwheat is known to have a cholesterol-lowering effect, in part by reducing absorption of dietary cholesterol in your gut (9, 10, 11).

Buckwheat may have a less significant impact on your blood sugar levels because it has a lower glycemic index (GI) than some other foods high in carbohydrates. If you have diabetes or blood sugar issues, this may be especially helpful to you (11, 12, 13).

In one Japanese study, a 50-gram serving of soba noodles had a GI of 56, compared to a GI of 100 for white rice, the high-GI comparison food (14).

What Are Soba Noodles?

A thin Japanese noodle known as soba is made primarily of buckwheat flour with a small amount of wheat flour. They are dense, slightly chewy, and have a variety of colors ranging from light tan to brownish-gray, depending on the amount of buckwheat flour used (more buckwheat results in a darker noodle). They can be consumed hot, typically in a soup or broth, or chilled, with a soy-based dipping sauce called tsuyu. Although both dishes are eaten all year round, traditionally the cold version is preferred in the summer and the hot versions in the winter.

The origin of soba noodles is Japan, where they are popular in both fine dining establishments and street vendors. They are also a traditional New Year’s Eve dish there. When making soba noodles, buckwheat flour and a small amount of wheat flour are mixed with water to form a crumbly dough. The dough is then rolled out into a flat sheet, folded in half, and hand-cut into thin strands about the thickness of spaghetti. The noodles can then either be cooked right away or dried before being cooked. In North America, the dried type is most common.

Although most soba noodles contain some wheat flour, they are not gluten-free even though buckwheat is a gluten-free grain. Without gluten, the dough would be fragile and the noodles would be prone to disintegrating before or while being cooked. A small amount of wheat flour aids in the formation of the dough, facilitates rolling out, and keeps the noodles from breaking. Although it is possible to find gluten-free soba noodles made entirely of buckwheat flour, most dried soba noodles contain 20 to 25 percent wheat flour.

While the only ingredients in traditional soba are buckwheat flour, wheat flour, and water, some varieties also include seaweed, green tea powder, or wild yam flour.

What Do They Taste Like?

Soba noodles have a medium-density, chewy texture and a nutty, earthy flavor with a hint of sweetness.

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