Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer Soba

While on my world-backpacking safari in my 20's, I spent several months in Japan teaching English. I lived in a small town named Ugata in Mie-ken - famous for its seafood, Kashikojima Island and a thriving pearl industry.

One of my students, 9yo Kiri, turned up on my doorstep one evening and presented me with a tray of delicious food. She told me it was Summer Soba before scooting away. This is a classic Japanese summer dish - very refreshing as the noodles and all condiments are served cold. 

Soba noodles are made from Buckwheat. These are fast to cook, but must be thoroughly rinsed before being served. I change the rinsing water several times until the water doesn't look so 'starchy'. I used a bottled ready-made dipping sauce. In future, I would like to make my own sauce as the only one I could find included MSG. A great introduction to Soba Noodles can be found at Just Hungry
This is a fun dish for the kids to eat with chopsticks - if somewhat messy as the noodles are dipped into a bowl of sauce before being eaten. This dish is comfort food for hot days, and is typically vegetarian. Traditional condiments include: fresh Wasabi, chopped green/spring onions, Toasted shredded Nori (the seaweed mostly known for wrapping sushi). I seem to remember that my original experience with this meal also included Shiso (also known as 'beefsteak plant' or Perilla) - a plant commonly found in Japanese home gardens. 
The meal I served my family included some sliced cooked chicken (left over from Goi Cuon meal) sliced red peppers, green onion and Nori strips. I was the only one willing to sprinkle on some Shichimi


  1. Ohhhh delicious. I loved the seasonity of the food in Japan. That was one of the things that struck me the most when I was there. I grew up in Sadkatchewan and 'seasonality' basically consisted of summer (corn, strawberries) and not-summer (canned veg).

  2. That is SO interesting! Living in Australia we were accustomed to eating most things year round... as most everything could be grown somewhere. I didn't get to try any Japanese Winter dishes - did you have a favorite?

  3. I had many favourite dishes in Japan. Okonomiyaki, Takoyaki, ochazuke.
    But what I really really loved was hot corn soup in a can!!!
    Did I see that you live in the USA now?
    If you're on Facebook you can Like our travel page: Travels with Team Foley
    Let's keep this dialogue going!

  4. LOVE Okonomiyaki! I have tried to get our kids interested in this - but just haven't found the right kind of flour yet. Do you have any ideas?
    I will chase up your Facebook lead - this is fun!

  5. Hello Anne, I was recently googling my old town of Ugata in Mie where I used to lived in 92-94 and your blog popped up. It is lovely to hear of someone else that had lived there. How long ago did you stay there and where were you teaching English? I lived in Ugata & nearby Yokoyama and remember fondly my drives to Kokufu & Nabari beaches etc. I took my husband there on our honeymoon last year in the Spring time. Some places have changed, aged and other new places have popped up. I'd love to speak with you more about Mie. From the wild woolly West of Aus.) Marisa

  6. Hi Marisa
    Wow! You spend some time there too! We might even have crossed paths. I was there in the Summer of '92. I worked at the Lacco English school. You may note that the other poster (above) also lived in Ugata and worked at Lacco too (although some time after me).
    Great to hear from you - and love to hear more.