by Maki Watson
Soba has been considered good luck for a long time (at least 200 years) in Japan! Japanese people eat Soba on some special occasions like moving house or New Year’s Eve, as we did in my family.
Since Soba, which are noodles made from buckwheat, are easier to cut than thicker varieties, they represent the cutting away of any bad luck built up over the course of the year. Because Soba are long and thin, they symbolise long life. Eating Soba signifies a desire for longevity.
At some restaurants, once you have finished your Soba you may be served a small teapot of hot Soba water. This is the water that the Soba was cooked in and it is full of vitamins B1 and B2 and contain’s lutin, a type of polyphenol antioxidant.
Kitsune Soba consists of 3 main elements – the soup, which contains ‘dashi’ (Japanese stock), ‘soba’ noodles, and ‘aburaage’ (thin-cut, deep-fried tofu). Kitsune Soba, translated to ‘Fox Soba’, is named due to the colour of the aburaage!
The Co-op stocks most ingredients you’ll need to make Kitsune Soba. In fact, the Co-op stocks the best quality ‘shouyu’ (soy sauce) and ‘mirin’ (fermented sweet rice wine) around, two of the foundational flavour ingredients of Japanese cuisine. If you haven’t already tried them, give them a go when you make this, it’ll really make a difference to the depth of flavour!
There’s also a couple of things that you’ll need to pick up at an Asian grocery store, these are the aburaage, ‘sake’ (cooking rice wine) and dried shiitake mushrooms.
This recipe makes 4 servings.
Dried shiitake mushroom – 10g (approx 3-4)
Dried kombu (sea-weed variety) – 10g (approx 5cmx20cm piece)
Water – 1200ml
1. Put the Shiitake and Kombu in a glass jar and fill in cold water
2. Leave the jar in the fridge for more than 5 hours.
3. When it turns a golden brown colour, take out the Shiitake and the Kombu and use the soup Dashi stock.
Aburaage – 4 pieces
Water – 150ml
Shouyu – 2T
Mirin – 1/2T
Sugar – 1T
1. Cut each Aburaage diagonally to make triangles .
2. Bring in the water to boil to get rid of any excess oil. Blanch the Aburaage for a few minutes.
3. Rinse the Aburaage under cold water and squeeze out of excess water gently by pressing with both hands.
4. Put all of the liquid ingredients and sugar in a pot and bring to a simmer.
5. Add the Aburaage and simmer slowly for 10 minutes until it absorbs all the liquid.
Prepare the Soup
Dashi (from above) – 800ml
Shouyu – 100ml
Sake – 100ml
Mirin – 80ml
Soba – 440g
Spinach – half bunch
Spring onion – 2
1. Briefly immerse the spinach in boiling water, then strain under cold water and gently squeeze out the excess water. Cut them into 5cm-wide pieces.
2. Wash and cut spring onions diagonally for a fancier look.
3. Boil plenty of water and add the Soba noodles.
4. While the Soba is cooking, put the Dashi and other ingredients into a pot and simmer.
5. Once the Soba is al dente (cooked but still a little firm), strain (keeping the water to drink after!) and run under cold water.
6. Add the Soba to the Dashi pot and simmer for another 2 minutes.
7. Serve into bowls and garnish with the Aburaage, spinach and spring onions.
Please enjoy the food!