Just the basics: Anchovy, ginger, and garlic.
Soba noodles are Japanese and seem to be in the shadow of ramen noodles which are historically Chinese. You can get soba in Korea’s “Japanese” food joints alongside udon noodles and kimbap. As one of the holdovers of the decades-long Japanese occupation, I think there could be a mental block for some Koreans when it comes to eating it.
My dad often scoffed at Japanese food, making fun of sushi as being barely a meal for what you pay. He stayed true to his Korean food traditions and I know he didn’t have any fusion confusion. But our food is susceptible to fluctuations in culture and trends, coming under the influence of outside elements as much as our language, philosophy, and arts. Of course, food that evolves as a response to people’s ingenuity and craft is welcome and can be in harmony with longstanding indigenous food traditions.
The phenomenon of soba in Korea is nothing compared to India’s catastrophic situation of being held hostage by Montsanto’s genetically modified crops. Wheat, corn, and white rice replaced India’s plentiful ancient bhatwa crop causing her farmers to grow hungry, but dependent on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Buckwheat looks pretty good in comparison.
Find out more from Dr. Vandana Shiva’s inspiring BBG Making Brooklyn Bloom keynote speech here.
I don’t rank soba as high on my noodle-lust list, but I see its value as a healthy and delicious foodstuff. And I have to concede that it’s better for me than my beloved highly-processed, high-in sodium Neoguri ramen.
Soba in Broth
water, 3-5 cups
dried anchovies, 5-7
1 big daikon, peeled and cut in medium chunks
ginger, a big hunk peeled and chunked
garlic cloves, whole but crushed, 5 or more
dashi powder, optional
salt or soy sauce to taste
greens e.g. spinach, chinese mustard greens, gai lan
fish cakes, Japanese or Chinese
soba noodles, boiled in a separate pot, rinsed and set aside
1. In a stock or soup pot, heat a little sesame oil, add dried anchovies and saute for a few minutes. Add daikon, ginger, garlic and saute for a minute before adding water. If you’re using dashi powder, start with a teaspoon to start and you can add more to taste. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes. You can keep simmering on low for longer, but just check that your stock doesn’t completely evaporate. Taste and adjust with salt and/or soy sauce.
2. Cook your soba in a different pot while stock is simmering. Set aside.
3. Add fish cakes, greens and scallions to simmering stock. Let greens get tender. Add the noodles and let simmer for a few minutes more.
4. Finish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, a drizzle of sesame oil and more soy sauce if you find it too bland. But it’s not supposed to be too salty.