(Makes 2-3 servings)
280 grams stone-milled buckwheat flour for soba
70 grams all-purpose flour
175 grams mineral water (cold or boiling water)
Cornstarch or Tapioca flour for dusting
1. Place the buckwheat and all-purpose flours in large bowl, along with the cold water. Mix and massage the dough until it forms a single mass. (Press and rub the sides of the bag against the dough to pick up as much as you can of any dough that’s sticking to the bowl.)
2. Remove the dough from the bowl to a cutting board. Working quickly and using the heels of your hands, continue to knead firmly until a smooth dough forms. (If the dough feels dry, lightly wet the tips of your fingers with more cold water, brushing the m against the surface of the dough and continue kneading until smooth). The final dough will be soft, smooth and not sticky. This will take about 8-10 minutes. Form the dough into a smooth ball.
3. Place the ball on the board and lightly sprinkle cornstarch over the top. Using your palm and the heel of your hand, flatten the ball into a disk about one-half inch thick.
4. Use a rolling pin to roll the disk into a rectangle (about 12 by 20 inches) one-eighteenth inch thick. Generously sprinkle cornstarch over half of the dough and fold the other half of the dough over, like a book (the cornstarch will keep the dough from sticking together as it is cut). Generously dust another crosswise half of the dough with cornstarch and fold again.
5. Starting along the short, folded side of the dough, slice it into very thin (about one-sixteenth inch) noodles. Keep the noodles loosely covered with plastic wrap while you boil the water for cooking.
6. To cook the noodles: Bring a large pot of water (at least 2 gallons) to a boil over high heat. Gently drop the soba into the boiling water. Keep the water boiling vigorously to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Cook the noodles to al dente, about 90 seconds (timing will vary depending on the thickness of the noodles).
7. Immediately remove the noodles to a strainer set in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Prepare a second bowl of ice water and transfer to the second bowl to remove any surface starch and cool completely. Drain the noodles. Serve with soba tsuyu dipping sauce, walnut dipping sauce, or dashi dipping sauce (see below) along with condiments. You can add other recipes from Sonoko Sakai on the side.
Easy dashi dipping sauce
4 cups water
4 cups bonito (a fish similar to tuna) flakes, divided
4 ounces mirin (a Japanese rice wine)
4 ounces soy sauce (Usukuchi or Koikuchi-type Japanese soy sauce)
1. Make a dashi broth by bringing four cups of water to boil, then turning off the heat for one minute before adding in three loosely packed cups of bonito flakes. The flakes will wilt and shrivel upon contact with the steam. Let the liquid steep for five minutes before draining the liquid into a bowl through a strainer lined with cheese cloth. (Don’t press on the flakes or the liquid will turn cloudy and fishy.)
2. Measure out three cups (24 ounces) of the dashi broth and bring it to a boil with 4 ounces of mirin and 4 ounces of soy sauce.
3. As soon as it boils, turn off the heat and add in one more cup of bonito flakes. Let them steep for one minute before draining the liquid into another bowl. Let cool. This will make enough dipping sauce for three to four servings of soba. Refrigerated, it will keep for a week.
Editor’s note: Mirin, bonito, and Japanese soy sauce may be found in Asian food markets or the Asian food aisle of the grocery store. They can also be ordered online.