How to make it

  • Add the noodles to boiling water, then turn down to a simmer and cook until soft but not mushy, one stage past al dente. I find this takes 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of the pot and how much soba you are cooking.
  • If you are using 100% buckwheat soba you might want to try the following method of cooking: bring the pot of water to a boil, add the noodles, cook for a minute or two until the water comes to a boil again. When this happens, add a half cup of cold water. Wait until the noodles come to a boil again and repeat the process. These noodles are a little more fragile and this method keeps them from boiling the entire time.
  • Drain the noodles. You may want to drain them into a bowl as some people like to add some of the cooking water to the dipping sauce when you've finished and drink it like a sort of soup.
  • Rinse the drained noodles. This is not like the quick rinse you may give to Italian-style pasta, this is a thorough washing. I do this under the faucet using my hands to separate the noodles and make sure they all get rinsed. There are others who fill the pot up with water again and swish the noodles around, changing the water until it runs clean. However you want to do it, make sure any starch or residue has been washed off the noodles. This is important so they don't clump together.
  • Chill, covered, until ready to serve.
  • Assemble your toppings on small dishes and put the dipping sauce in a cup, small bowl, or soba-choko (special cup for soba dipping sauce). It's traditional to serve the noodles with the nori on top, sesame seeds on the side, but I love the look of the sesame seeds mixed in with the noodles. After you've served the dish, mix the toppings into the sauce and, taking a small clump of noodles in your chopsticks, dip them into the sauce and eat, making sure to slurp.

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