“Udon” is a Japanese noodle made of only flour, salt and water. Unlike ramen noodles, udon noodles are chewier and firmer.
Buckwheat is called Soba.
Japanese people often eat a bento box with a sushi and udon set. These are also sold at supermarkets and convenience stores.
Today, I explains Udon & Soba.
- Famous place for Udon and Soba.
- Udon Types (うどん)
- Soba Type (そば / 蕎麦)
- How to make Udon noodles
- How to make soba noodles
- Making Tools
- For Udon
- Dining utensils
- Udon Soup / Soba soup - Mentsuyu
Famous place for Udon and Soba.
The following is an introduction to the holy places of Udon or Soba.
Udon Types (うどん)
Udon noodles are named according to their thickness. I introduce 5types udon noodle that Japanese often eat.
There are 3 types of udon noodles: fresh, frozen and dried. This type udon is sold by frozen or fresh well at supermarket. This is called Namamen(生麺).
The texture of all types are not so much different from dried.
Soumen is the thinnest and has a diameter of less than 1.3 mm. it is said the product in Hyogo (兵庫県)prefecture is the most famous and high quality. “Ibonoito (揖保乃糸)” is the highest bland in Japan.
Not expensive! It may be approx. 6USD or so each bag.
“Hiyamugi” means the cold wheat noodle. The diameter of this one is 1.3 to 1.7 mm.
We don’t eat it hot and this is a typical dipping noodle in summer.
I love Hiyamugi. We never eat this hot.
Udon can be served hot or cold.
Sanuki udon (讃岐うどん)is most famous for udon. Sanuki is the former name of Kagawa Prefecture, Shikoku. So, they are called the Udon prefecture.
Kishimen is from Aichi prefecture. This noodle made in flat strips. The width is about 0.8mm.
Soba Type (そば / 蕎麦)
“Soba” means buckwheat. The ratio of buckwheat flour varies from 100 percent buckwheat, to 2:8 wheat flour, to half buckwheat, and so on. Although these are the dried noodles, the fresh type is called “Nama soba (生蕎麦)”.
Soba connoisseurs are called “Sobaliers (ソバリエ)” instead of “Sommeliers” in Japan.
Percentage of Soba
Soba made from 100% buckwheat flour is called “Juwari-soba (十割蕎麦)”. It has a elegant aroma, but it is so difficult to make, and boil that only experienced chef can handle it.
Therefore, it’s pretty difficult to
find this type restaurant in Tokyo even.
The most common type of soba is “Nippachi soba (二八蕎麦)” which is made with 80% soba-ko : 20% wheat flour.
Inaka soba (田舎蕎麦)
A blackish buckwheat noodle made by grinding even the buckwheat hulls. It is very popular among soba connoisseurs because it has the genuine flavor of soba.
Soba noodles healthy
The buckwheat flour is called “Soba-ko”.
We often eat soba after a hangover. Because soba contains high fiber, rutin, polyphenols, and vitamin B. It is effective for beauty and against hangover.
How to make Udon noodles
“Teuchi (手打ち)” means the homemade make Udon. We usually use verb for handmade is “Tsukuru”, but only noodles are used this verb “Utsu”.
The Udon is made of 100% wheat flour, salt and water.
Some people do not use by hands, but step on it with their feet😣
How to make soba noodles
“Soba uchi” means making Soba. Unlike udon noodles, Soba is very difficult to make. Because, it is often terrible shredded one after boil.
It is said that the cutting technique only takes for only 3 days and the stretching technique takes 3 months.
But, the technique of mixing buckwheat flour and water well is taken up to 3 years too.
This process is called “Mizu mawashi”. Buckwheat flour is difficult to handle. And this is the most important to make Soba-uchi!
Bread is also same, isn’t it?
“Sobagaki” is buckwheat mash. Food made into a rice cake by kneading buckwheat flour with boiling water. It is eaten as a snack for Sake.
Soba kiri Houchou (蕎麦切り包丁)
“Soba kiri” means cutting buckwheat. “Houchou” means Japanese knife. So, this knife is for cutting only Soba. This shape is long heavy knife with a single edge.
The word “Furui” means sieve. In soba making, 50 mesh is generally used.
“Konahouki” means a powder broom. It removes powder very well.
Menbou (麺棒) / Noshibou (のし棒)
“Men” means noodle, “Bou” is a rolling pin. Also, stretching noodles is called “Nosu” ( Noun is “Noshi”). Therefore, this is called a “Menbou” or “Noshibou”.
Kneading noodles is called “Koneru”. “Bachi” means bowl. You can substitute a bowl, but this bowl is easier to knead the noodles.
“Komaita” is used as a ruler for cutting noodles, and is made of a water-proof wood called Japanese cypress “Hiba (ひば)”.
“Noshiita” means a noodle rolling board. A large one is easier to use. “Uchidai” or “Mendai” are called also.
In Japan, Japanese cypress is the most popular because of its fragrance and superior water resistance.
On the other hands, there is not knife for cutting the Udon.
When we cut the Udon, we usually use pasta cutting maker (I recommend pasta maker “Imperia” in Italy.) or ordinary knife.
“Seiro” means a bamboo tray for noodle. It is woven from bamboo. A good colander made in Japan can be used for more than 10 years because it drains water well and does not get moldy.
Use chopsticks to eat udon and soba.
Hot noodles are served in a bowl, cold noodles are served in a plate or a basket, and we eat soba dipping into soup with this Sobajoko.
There are many antique collector of them.
Chopsticks (はし / 箸)
I recommend bamboo chopsticks because they don’t slip and are easy to grab hold of the noodles.
This has another name “Otemoto (おてもと)”, more polite. Only worker of restaurant uses this word.
Udon Soup / Soba soup - Mentsuyu
“Mentsuyu” means soup for noodles. We change the taste of the soup depending on the noodles.
Soba sauce has the strongest taste of soy sauce and dashi.
Udon dipping sauce tastes completely different in each region. (This photo is soup for soba)
Somen-tsuyu is a little sweeter and is made from a crispy broth. This was the easiest to make and tasted similar to Soumen dipping sauce.
You do not need mirin.
“Gomadare” means white sesame sauce. Recently, white sesame sauce has also become popular among Japanese people.
“Sobayu” is the boiled water after boiling soba noodles. Since the nutrients in soba melt away after boiling, it is customary to drink it with the remaining soup so as not to waste the nutrition.
As for cold Soba (“Zaru soba”), the only toppings are leeks, wasabi, nori, and sesame usually.
I explain about each recipes in another page.
Today I talked about the basics of soba and udon. Next time I will talk about recipes.