Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Don't say it's soba!
Pre-allergy discovery, I was a noodle fanatic. I've since had to tone it WAAYYYY down because wheat and I do NOT get along. (It was, and continues to be a bad breakup.)
So the other day, I got a bug to try making soba noodles from scratch. Maybe it was because I was tired of being slave to others having to make it for me, maybe I'm on a cooking powertrip, but purchased seems to be the only way I can get the kind that has very little wheat in it. Most of the dried soba in the stores is 50/50 buckwheat and wheat. (Buckwheat, in case you didn't know, isn't a wheat at all, it's an herb, and a healthy one at that. Who knew?)
So after doing some research on the Internet (I love the Internet and want to marry it) which included recipes AND video instruction, I leaped into the challenge. Since I make pie pastry a lot (for other people to eat!), I found that the handfeel of the dough is very similar to piecrust. It needs to be tender, but thin, moist but not too moist and it changes every time you roll it out. No problem, I'm in the zone.
Cutting the noodles by hand with a knife instead of using a pasta machine (which would probably crush the tender dough since it has way less gluten and is therefore not as tough as wheat) seemed to work okay. The noodles looked rustic and charming. I made a quick dashi broth with a mix (scratch next time, promise) to go with them.
However, upon cooking, they were AWFUL. A good general rule about cooking is to use the best ingredients possible, especially when there are few of them. The buckwheat was old I admit, and tasted old and bitter and a lot like dirt. Raw dirt. The texture was weird and thick because I switched out the wheat flour for a gluten-free garbanzo flour and added some xanthan gum, which helped the texture, but not the taste. Bleccccch.
Next time, I'll seek out some fresh buckwheat flour and find a better-tasting wheat substitute. The recipes say no less than 20% wheat, so off I go . *sigh* If you see me at Mitsuwa Marketplace on Centinela over the next few weeks, I'll be the one staring woefully into my purchased soba.