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PREFACE
Summer Slurp Series, Pt. 1: Nikumiso Udon
Summer Slurp Series, Pt. 2: Hiyashi Chuka (Cold Ramen)

The one (and only) thing that I miss about the disgustingly humid temperatures in Tokyo is the arrival of cold noodle dishes on menus everywhere. During the hot months of June through September, I would convince myself that I deserved a daily reward of a big bowl of cold noodles for surviving each hot day. There are many hiyashi-men (cold noodle) dishes, but the most common ones are zaru soba, somen, nikumiso udon, and hiyashi chuka
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The third installment in Japanify’s Summer Slurp Series introduces cha-soba.

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"Harry, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don't plan it. Don't wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men's store, a catnap in your office chair, or... ordering the cha-soba instead of the regular soba."
-
Agent Cooper, Twin Peaks

Okay, I added that last part. But I am convinced Dale Cooper would count indulging in cha-soba (green tea soba) as an unplanned present.

Nothing is different from how one prepares regular soba (buckwheat noodles) and cha-soba. But knowing that cha-soba is not an everyday event is enough to want to plate it with special care. Cha-soba is an unplanned indulgence, considering that a 7 oz. package of cha-soba is $2.99 compared to a 9 oz package of regular soba for $2.49.

In Japan, cha-soba is for festive occasions, or as my husband put it, "When I feel like eating something different." The process of making cha-soba involves adding green tea powder to the buckwheat flour used for the noodles. This results in strands of wasabi-colored noodles, a hint of sweetness and green tea aromas. As much as I'd like to think that the green tea also contributes in creating a healthier soba, I doubt that enough green tea is used to have that effect. Ultimately, it doesn't really matter because it glistens with green gorgeousness and smells like a spa.

ZARU CHA-SOBA


INGREDIENTS
1 package of cha-soba
2 green onions
Dab of wasabi
One sheet of nori cut into thin strips

Tsuyu (dipping sauce; my recipe here)

METHOD

1. Make tsuyu or use the store-bought kind.

2. Slice up the green onions and cut nori. Squirt a dab of wasabi onto a plate.

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3. Follow the instructions for boiling time on the cha-soba pack.

4. Prepare an ice bath for the noodles.

5. When the noodles have boiled, pass cold running water through them.

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6. Dunk the noodles in a collander into the ice bath. Leave for a few minutes until the noodles are very cold.

7. Using your hands, place a tangled ball of noodles on the zaru (bamboo sieve). Serve the noodles on the sieve. I have a flat bamboo slat sieve that I place over a shallow bowl smaller than the sieve.

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Green tea powder and cha-soba.

8. In a small bowl, pour 1/2 a cup of tsuyu. Add noodles and top with onions, nori and dissolve wasabi in the tsuyu.

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Slurp and enjoy.

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Kayoko happened to give me the perfect dessert for my cha-soba yesterday--Toraya green tea yokan. When cut up into sixths, these confections look like a Donald Judd sculpture. This was an unplanned present bursting with coincidence and I was more than happy to surrender.

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I opened with a quote from my favorite television series of all time--Twin Peaks. Discussing green noodles and unplanned gifts makes me wonder how amazing a Japanese cooking show directed by David Lynch would be. Imagine it now: A slow push in slowly on a glistening hunk of toro with a deafening soundtrack... or a perfectly silent and still overhead shot of a teishoku set.



Mr. Lynch: Allow me pitch this idea to you over some cha-soba.

For die-hard Twin Peaks fans like myself, see The Unofficial Twin Peaks Food List for all foods mentioned (and sometimes obsessed over) in the series.
Column: Japanify
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9 comments

  • I love cha-soba and Twin Peaks! I have to admit I haven’t seen all of Season 2, but we were all obsessed with Agent Cooper at school.

    Wasabi is something I only began to appreciate as an adult. But adding it to zaru soba makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

    sakura on

  • Yeay! I am so glad you started watching TP. I have been obsessed since I was 15. I don’t know how many times I’ve lent out my season one dvd set to people. Spreading the TP gospel.

    yoko on

  • i’m drooling! incidentally i started watching twin peaks for the first time recently- just started season 2. love it!

    wen on

  • Nagashi Soumen next please! :)

    Kiwa on

  • Congrats Yoko, you made it to tastespotting!

    yamahomo on

  • Sakura – yes, it’s essential to add wasabi to zaru soba. I won’t really be satisfied without it. Yeay TP!

    Yama – thanks! Didn’t even realize it was up until you commented.

    Kiwa – I don’t have that contraption! If I did I would love to post on it. Shooting a video with a bunch of kids would be fun.

    yoko on

  • Awesome. Maybe you can guest write for the summer slurp series when you do that.

    yoko on

  • I am thinking about throwing a nagashi somen party. All we need is bamboo (or halved PCP pipe), water, strainer, and lots of somen!

    yamahomo on

  • YES! I second this idea!

    Kayoko on

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