|Posted on December 13, 2012 at 4:00 PM||comments (0)|
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|Posted on July 7, 2012 at 7:10 AM||comments (0)|
"When I slurp a bowl of somen noodles it becomes a summer breeze"
All Japanese noodles can be eaten hot or cold, but it is somen that stars during the hot summer months because Japanese consume them in enormous quantities to stay cool. Why are somen so extraordinarily cooling? Like angel hair pasta, somen is a very thin wheat noodles. They are served in ice water with ice cubes added to give the noodles that extra chilling factor. This is what makes the experience of slurping somen so smooth and satisfying in the summertime.
Noodle experts say good water and good flour make tasty somen noodles. Tokushima in Shikoku Island is known for their good water. Nowadays, 99% of wheat is imported from Australia, Canada and the US and milled in Japan or to Japanese specifications. Shikoku is particularly famous for their udon and somen noodle culture. I visited the Moriwaki family who owns a somen factory in Handa, which is located in the mountaineous side of Tokushima, about 1.5 hours away from the Tokushima airport. It was my first visit to Shikoku Island. I flew in from Tokyo in the morning with my friend Mamiko Nishiyama. We spent a good day at the factory watching how the Moriwakis make their noodles. Their method, which is called "Tenobe" or hand pulled method is a labor of love.
The 78 year old Ms.Moriwaki takes two long wooden sticks to separate and pull the noodles. The pulling is a gradual process that begins with a ball of dough which is pulled and separated into strands of noodles. The noodles are moved to several racks in different sizes where they get further stretched by hand. It's quite laborious process. These elastic noodles appear delicate but they are like thick rubber bands. I tried pulling the noodles myself and was surprised how difficult it was to pull the noodles while keeping the moist strands separate. The noodles are moved to different racks and pulled until they looked long enough to make a curtain. Then they are left to dry. When the noodles are completely dry, they are cut and packaged. Watching the Moriwaki was like going to see a dance performance.
The workroom where they pull the noodles is light and spotless. Fans keep the place cool. The lady is separating the noodles by hand. There are only four familes that make these noodles by hand. The flavor and texture of Handa Somen is outstanding. I brought back a half a suitcase full of Handa somen to do a workshop. It was a beautiful visit.
For Workshop details:
|Posted on July 1, 2012 at 9:30 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on June 21, 2012 at 5:05 PM||comments (0)|
Cookbook at Echo Park decorated their shop window with cookbooks. I love that they featured a make soba and fresh sob cookbook! This summer, I am offering fresh take out soba and soba workshop at the shop. It's a lot o work to get up early to make 40 servings of soba but I love delivering the noodles to Cookbook. Owners, Marta and Rob inspire me with their good taste and good food.
|Posted on March 17, 2012 at 3:55 PM||comments (1)|
|Posted on February 26, 2012 at 7:45 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on January 26, 2012 at 9:30 PM||comments (1)|
Today, we started Phase 3 of the project at Mitsuwa Marketplace. We are doing soba demonstrations and sales of fresh soba there. An elderly gentleman came to watch us make soba. He wore a Dodgers baseball cap and a clean white shirt. His back was quite bent but he walked without a cane. He watched us making soba, had a tasting of soba, then another, and after that, he wanted to buy the take home soba. But later, he came back to tell me that he didn't know the soba noodles were uncooked! Yes, I explained to him that the noodles needed to be cooked at home. He said he lived alone and didn't think he could cook the noodles by himself. He seemed a little lost because he had already paid for the noodles. I felt bad for him so we made an exception and cooked the noodles for him. He was very happy. It turns out that he is a 105 years old retired math teacher. He is a regular at Mitsuwa. His son (who is in his early 80s) brings him to a bus stop where he picks up the bus that brings him to the market every week. He likes to hang out at the food court.
He watched the soba demonstration with curiousity. He enjoyed talking about his family. His wife passed away a couple of years ago at age 94. He said that his wife getting sick forced him to walk again because he had to go visit her at the hospital. He thanks his "kachan" in heaven everyday for enabling him to walk again. Now he visits her at the cemetary every week. He says walking and appreciating people are the way to longevity. He has 55 grandchildren and some. When the noodles were cooked, I packed it carefully in his back pack. He headed for the exit. I hope to see him again while we are at Mitsuwa.
|Posted on January 16, 2012 at 9:30 AM||comments (0)|
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|Posted on July 13, 2011 at 11:20 AM||comments (0)|
This is the second summer since I started soba workshops. I never thought I would be in so deep with soba. My second refrigerator is full with flour. I actually get anxious when my soba flour stock begins to run low.
Student making soba
I used to do the workshops at home but now I am also going out to places likeTortoise in Venice and the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo. Doing these workshops take a lot of work but I love doing them.
You want your workshop to run smoothly but sometimes you can run into unexpected surprises. Last week, when I did a udon workshop at the museum, a wedding was double booked by mistake and the kitchen was not available. There was a whole crew of chefs and waiters bringing in the food when I got there with my soba making tools. But it all worked
Soba made by a student
out. The chef was nice enough to give me one burner on the range to cook the noodles. I had to conduct most of the workshop in another room, using an electric heating unit to make the stock but we managed. It was a little bit like camping and the noodles turned out delicious.
Roger is cutting the dough
Torotise is an elegant store on Abbot Kinney in Venice. I didn't experience any glitches here. Tortoise added this additional room last spring. It's a gallery of beautiful objects but they also conduct fun workshops like Japanese coffee making, flower arrangement, woodworking, and soba making by hand. I am the messy one of the group but I bring my assistant to make sure we don't leave any flour around.
I love being at Tortoise. It's hard to walk out without not buying something. Everything they have is made in Japan. It makes good sense for me to doing a soba workshop here. I will be doing another one soon.
Kneading the dough
Feasting on the soba
Soba for beginners recipe can be found here.
|Posted on July 11, 2011 at 7:13 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on July 5, 2011 at 2:09 AM||comments (5)|
Use a digital scale to measure the ingredients.
500 grams Udonko flour (Nishin's Canary)
Water 215 grams
Salt 20 grams
½ lbs Cornstarch for dusting
Mix the water and salt in a bowl, following separate instruction sheet.
Sift the measured flour.
Combine 2/3 of the measured salt water with the flour. Mix quickly until it becomes crumbly.
Add the remaining water until the dough sticks together. There can be clumps of dried areas, and it doesn’t have to be in the shape of a ball yet. You will have to adjust the water according to the freshness of the flour, temperature and humidity level.
Put the dough inside the folded plastic sheet and step on it for 4 or 5 minutes.
Fold the dough under and keep the smooth side facing up. You will repeat this process three times. The dough will become firm, smooth and shiny.
Let the dough rest in a plastic bag for 5 minutes.
The dough should be about 10 inch square or 25cm square.
Take the dough out of the plastic bag and make a round dough, folding the edges into the center, using your thumb to press the dough down. Turn it over, so the smooth side of the dough it facing up. Let the dough rest for 1 hour and up to overnight in room temperature. If it is too hot and humid, leave it in the vegetable compartment of the fridge. It can stay in the fridge for 2 days.
Kneading and Cutting :
Knead the dough into a disc. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into noodles.
Sprinkle generaous amounts of constarch on the dough. Fold (as per picture) into three folds
and slice across.
With 500grams of Flour, the thickness should be 50cm square, 4mm thick.
The thickness can also range from 4mm, but it can be thinner or thicker.
Cooking the noodles:
Boil water in a large pot. Boil the noodles for 12 minutes to 14 minutes. Rinse under
cold water, massaging the noodles to take off the surface film. You will have smooth and shiny noodles.
Put the udon noodles in a bowl.
Heat the broth and pour the hot broth over and serve with
Chopped green onions
Roasted Sesame Seeds
Udon Broth Recipe
2.2 L water
15 grams Konbu seaweed, surface cleaned
30 grams Iriko (dried sardines), guts and head removed
15 grams Bonito Flakes
120 ml Light color soy sauce (Usukuchi soysauce)
3 Tbls sake
Salt – optional (Arajio) 1gram
3 Tbls mirin, optional
Place the konbu and Irio in the measured water for 3 hours to overnight.
Bring the measured water and konbu and Iriko mixture to nearly a boil. Turn of heat and remove the konbu and Iriko. Add Bonito flakes. After 30 seconds, strain the liquid through in a paper towel lined strainer.
Add soy sauce, sake, salt and mirin and bring the broth to nearly a boil. Turn off heat. The broth is ready for use.
|Posted on June 28, 2011 at 11:39 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on June 21, 2011 at 2:42 AM||comments (0)|