Soba Making at Starland Sakadani / スターランドさかだにのそば打ち体験
Part 11 of the series: Satoyama Concept in Fukui
The Echizen region of Fukui Prefecture is famous for its soba. Most people think of rice as being the staple grain of the Japanese diet, but buckwheat is actually the traditional staple in many parts of Japan. This is particularly true of regions that were not conducive to the growing of rice such as those at higher elevations and in the colder climate of the north. The popularity of buckwheat is demonstrated in the fact that the Japanese word for buckwheat, soba, is also the common word for traditional Japanese noodles.
Learn more about Fukui's Buckwheat Fields (pdf)
As part of the Satoyama Forum in Fukui Prefecture last summer, we visited Starland Sakadani to participate in a soba-making workshop. Soba noodles consist only of buckwheat mixed with wheat flour and water. The art is in how the dough is kneaded, rolled, folded, and sliced.
As we made the soba, behind the scenes women were cooking traditional local food to serve with the noodles. The meal was completely vegetarian because this is a mountainous area. Traditionally they would have they would not have had much in the way of livestock and in the days before modern transport, the location was too far from the sea for fresh fish and seafood. Outside of Buddhist temples, it is rare to be served a vegan meal in Japan, let alone a feast such as the one we enjoyed at Starland Sakadani.
If you would like to try making soba yourself, check out Starland Sakadani’s step-by-step instructions with photos (translation below) or book yourself a workshop using the contact details at the bottom of this post.
Handmade Soba in 15 Steps
Step 1 / 手順.1
Sift the flour. 粉をふるいにかける
Sift buckwheat (soba) flour and wheat flour into a large bowl.
Step 2 /手順.2
Mix the flour. 粉をよく混ぜる
Using your fingertips, mix the buckwheat flour and wheat flour together.
Step 3 / 手順.3
Add water 1. 水回しその１
Pour water directly onto the flour a small bit at a time. . .
Step 4 / 手順.4
Add water 2. 水回しその２
Using your fingertips, mix the flour and water until the flour resembles large crumbs.
Step 5 / 手順.5
Fold the dough. くくり
Gently turn and press the dough to start shaping it into a ball.
Step 6 / 手順.6
Knead the dough 1. 練りその１
Knead the dough pushing the weight of your body firmly into it until it becomes a smooth consistency.
Step 7 / 手順.7
Knead the dough 2. 練りその２
Press and rotate the dough into the shape of a large dumpling.
Step 8 /手順.8
Press the dough. 地のし
Slowly press the dough into a fat round of approximately 20 cm in diameter.
Step 9 / 手順.9
Roll out the dough. 丸出し
Begin flattening the dough with a rolling pin until the dough has increased in diameter to about 60cm.
Step 10 / 手順.10
Form into a square 1. 角出しその１
With a long slender rolling pin, roll the dough into the shape of a square.
Step 11 / 手順.11
Form into a square 2. 角出しその２
Continue rolling the square until it reaches the size of 90cm per side.
Step 12 / 手順.12
Fold into rectangle. たたみ
Fold the square of dough into a rectangular shape of many layers. Sprinkle flour generously between each layer to prevent them sticking. The width of the rectangle should be no more than the length of your knife.
Step 13 / 手順.13
Using a wooden board to mark the size and a large knife, slice the dough into noodles of approximately 2mm thick.
Step 14 / 手順.14
Bring water to a full boil, and boil the noodles for no more than 2 minutes.
Step 15 / 手順.15
Rinse the noodles and serve them in a dashi broth with grated daikon, bonito flakes, spring onions and other toppings according to your preference.
福井県大野市蓑道1-4 (Google Maps)
1-4 Minomichi, Ōno-shi, Fukui-ken
Tel. +81 779-67-7250
Open: 9am to 4pm
2015 Catherine Munroe Hotes