Gozen Soba Flour 400 grams
Wheat flour: 100 grams
Seasoning: Matcha powder 3% of weight of the flour
Water: 52% (boiling water)
Most soba you can get at the market or restaurant is made with buckwheat flour mixed with some wheat flour. But when a seasoning like Matcha is added to soba, it becomes Kawari soba. Kawari means variation. The seasoninng can be a vegetable or a fruit. On some festive occasions, seafood like shrimp is used to make a cheerful red soba. The possibilities are many but Matcha is probably the most popular Kawari soba.
I've been wanting to make Kawari soba for a long time. But with what seasoning was the question. I thought of making it with Yuzu, but I missed the chance during wintertime. Then came spring and I saw someone make Kawari soba, using pickled cherry blossoms. The hint of pink in the noodles, the salty taste and the perfume of the flowers made the noodles very attractive. But before I got around to getting the pickled cherry blossoms, summer came. But that's okay. I decided to make my Kawari soba with Matcha powder, which is readily available at Japanese markets or on-line.
Gozen flour, also called Sarashina flour, is used for making Kawari soba. This soba flour is made with the core part of the milled buckwheat seed. The texture is smooth and fine but on its own, Gozen flour has very little flavor or nutrients. That's where the seasonings come in to brighten it up.
Matcha soba was the treat I got whenever I visited my great aunt and uncle in Setagaya, a suburb in Tokyo. They always ordered in the soba for lunch, and with it came a big shrimp tempura. Come to think of it, maybe it was the shrimp tempura that I was more interested in than the matcha soba but the combination of this dish plus me being there alone with my relatives made this occasion super special.
A little can of Matcha powder cost me an alarming $18 at Nijiya market but I had to have it to make this soba and I used about half of the can. Dealing with matcha powder can be messy if you spill it on your cutting board or get it on your white shirt. But I like how jade green these noodles turned out. I can say that despite my anticipation, however, I couldn't taste the Matcha flavor in the noodles all that much. Maybe the Matcha soba I ate when I was a gril tasted more intense because I was younger. I am also too familiar with matcha tea, having sat in many of my grandmother's tea ceremonies. I expected my matcha soba to be more fragrant. Akila Inouye suggested serving the matcha powder on the side and let people sprinkle it over plain white gozen noodles. He thinks this is a more effective way to taste matcha than putting it into the dough. That is an option but then it would take away the fun of making these green noodles. In all honesty, I got spoiled by the nutty flavor of plain buckwheat noodles that if I had a choice between plain and Kawari soba, I would choose the plain. It was an interesting excercise though. Sakai liked the color of the noodles, and ate a plateful. I would make kawarisoba again, maybe with shiso or yuzu next time.
Gozen flour comes from the inner part of the milled seed.
It's the finest flour. It's basically like white rice. It is not particularly
rich in nutrients but it's has a pearly white color when cooked into
noodles, and the texture is smooth.
Kawari soba is mixed with hot water. A fan is used to cool
off the hot water quickly, so as not to dry out the flour.
I use a traditional wooden shamoji paddle and artisanal fan.
I adore my Japanese kitchen tools. The 4x 6 are used to raise
the kneading bowl to speed up the cooling process.
The fan in action.
The soba dough with matcha powder. The green color looks delicious.
It's a gigantic green kiss. Hershey should come up with Matcha Kisses.
I bet people would love it.
The dough is on the softer side compared to regular soba dough.
I put uchiko (soba flour) to prevent the dough from sticking.
I fold the dough two more times.
The dough is ready to be cut.
I use the dull edge of the knife to scoop up the noodles.
The noodles are ready to be cooked.
I cooked the noodles for 1 minute. A quick rinse in cold water
and then I shocked the noodles in ice water.
Voila! Matcha noodles ready to be served with a dipping sauce
and condiments - grated daikon radish and sliced negi.