Noodles are a beloved food in Japan. There are many different kinds of noodles you can try if you happen to visit the country. One of these kinds of noodles is called “soba”. Soba noodles are buckwheat noodles. In the category of soba, there are three very famous dishes; Wanko soba from Morioka, Togakushi soba from Nagano, and a special dish called “Izumo soba”. This is the dish that we will be introducing today. Izumo soba is a local cuisine that is widely eaten in the Izumo region of Shimane Prefecture, which is located next to Hiroshima.
You may be wondering what makes Izumo soba different from other kinds of soba. The answer is that Izumo soba is that the buckwheat flour used to make Izumo soba is made from buckwheat seeds which have not had the hulls removed, whereas normally for making soba the hulls would be removed. The seeds along with the hulls are ground on a millstone to make the flour for the soba. This gives the noodles a darker color and also a stronger buckwheat flavor. Since the dark parts of the hulls of buckwheat also contain protein, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, it is also very healthy for you and adds to the benefits of eating this food. Thus, Izumo soba has a very distinct fragrance and is also very high in nutritional value.
It is very popular to serve it in a three-tiered lacquerware bowl, called “warigo”. This shape came about when it became popular to eat lunch outside in the Edo Period. The reason these circular lunch boxes became so popular is because in 1904, the police department, which also handled health issues, outlawed rectangular boxes by saying that they were too hard to clean. The police also said it would be better to use lacquered boxes for hygiene also during this time.
There is a very interesting way to eat Izumo soba. Each layer of the bowl is stacked on the next. When you start eating the soba, you add toppings (grated radish mixed with some red pepper is very popular) and some dipping sauce to the first layer and mix them. After you finish eating the noodles in the first layer, you pour the left over sauce and toppings onto the second layer before adding some more fresh toppings and dipping sauce. This is repeated once again when you move on to the final layer.
Usually, soba is enjoyed with a very soft, chewy, and easy to swallow texture. However, with Izumo soba the noodles are more firm and can be a bit crunchy. This texture blends well with the strong, nutty flavor of the noodles making the dish very enjoyable for your taste buds! If you happen to be in the Izumo region of Shimane prefecture during your next trip to Japan, definitely stop by a local restaurant to try some Izumo soba! You won’t be disappointed!
Travelling Shimane prefecture on Pinterest : https://jp.pinterest.com/Cupido_Japan/travelling-shimane-prefecture/