Sunday, January 01, 2006

Toshikoshi soba

I just had a New Year's Day soba noodles, a Japanese tradition.

Sorry I just lied. What's traditional in Japan is a New Year's Eve soba noodles (toshikoshi soba). I simply forgot eating soba noodles last night.

I bought chasoba noodles (noodles made of soba powder and green tea leaf powder) the other day in Oriental Delight supermarket, a newly opened East Asian food market in Chinatown. I boiled it for three minutes. British-managed or American-managed Japanese restaurants, notably Wagamama, don't seem to understand how long you should boil Japanese noodles to serve, by the way. They always boil it too long, serving jellyish noodles to disappoint Japanese customers. Italians know this. Their phrase "al dente" says it all.

While waiting, I sliced spring onions very thinly. In a very small bowl, I poured soba dipping sauce (made of soy sauce, mirin, and dashi soup (soup containing umami) and added the sliced spring onions.

Serve soba noodles boiled al dente, after washed with cold water, onto a large plate with a small amount of wasabi paste put on the edge. Pick up a few noodles with chopsticks and dip them into the dipping sauce. Add a hint of wasabi on top of it. Then quickly put them all into your mouth before wasabi melts into the dipping sauce. The al dente texture of soba noodles, the bitterness of raw spring onions, the umami taste of the dipping sauce, and the distinctively spicy taste of wasabi melt together in your mouth.


The moment I feel happy to be born as Japanese. After eating them all, have a cup of hot Japanese green tea. It clears the umami taste left in your mouth. This is how we Japanese do our thing.

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