Pasta Making: Chef Sonoko Sakai on homemade soba noodles
Soba noodles, a nutty-tasting Japanese buckwheat treat, are my new favorite superfood. And Sonoko Sakai, a woman of many talents and countless accolades, is the local source for how to make traditional soba noodles at home.
A well-known food writer, movie producer and Japanese cookbook author, Sakai is a passionate promoter of traditional soba making. Through her organization, Common Grains, she's on a mission to revive the production and consumption of heirloom grains as part of a healthier, well-balanced diet that resembles how the Japanese eat. Calm, balanced and patient, she teaches a number of noodle workshops that will encourage you to carve out the extra time it takes to make things from scratch.
Sakai showed me the way of soba during a recent class at my cooking school. Throughout the class, she waxed poetic about buckwheat. Little known facts about the grain include that it's actually grown more in America than in Japan. However, it's usually planted here as a cover crop and not used much for consumption since there's only a small market for it. It's a shame, really, because buckwheat has enormous health benefits, including its cholesterol and blood pressure-lowering abilities. It’s also gluten-free and a good source of fiber and protein.
I rushed home after the class to make some soba noodles of my own. I made enough to feed a small army, but luckily, these guys freeze well. Maybe if enough of us make them we can change the trend on soba production and consumption in the states.
Check out how to make the recipe here.