蕎麦(そば)【Soba (buckwheat noodles)】

Buckwheat noodles called soba and another type of noodles made from flour called udon are the most popular varieties of Japanese noodles. Buckwheat noodles are made from buckwheat flour and a small quantity of other ingredients such as wheat flour, grated yam, and egg white, which are added to make the buckwheat stick together. Salt and water are then added to make dough. Next the dough is kneaded, rolled thinly with a rolling pin, and then cut into thin strips. Buckwheat noodles are generally light brown due to the color of the buckwheat flour, but there are also green noodles called chasoba. Cha means tea and the color of the green noodles comes from a small quantity of tea that is added to the dough.

蕎麦はうどんと並ぶ日本の代表的な麺類です。蕎麦粉と小麦粉・やまいも・卵白などの少量のつなぎに塩と水を加えてこね、麺棒で薄く伸ばしたものを細く切って作ります。薄茶色のものが一般的ですが、材料に抹茶を加えて仕上げた緑色のものもあります。

First the buckwheat noodles are boiled and then they are eaten with tsuyu. Tsuyu is a broth seasoned with soy sauce and another seasoning called mirin that contains sweet sake and other ingredients. There are two ways to eat the buckwheat noodles. One way is called kakesoba, which means that the noodles are served right after being boiled and eaten in a hot broth while the noodles are still hot. The other way is called zarusoba, which means that the noodles are chilled in cold water first. Then the person eating dips the noodles in a cold broth and eats them. Noodles can be eaten simply in a broth garnished with small quantities of condiments such as scallions, red pepper, and wasabi (Japanese horseradish). People often eat soba, however, with their favorite ingredients such as deep fried tofu (bean curd), prawn tempura, and raw eggs. Buckwheat noodles are very popular in Japan and people often prefer them when they would like a light meal. Soba is especially popular for lunch.

蕎麦はゆでてからつゆ(しょうゆ、みりんで調味しただし汁)と一緒に食べますが、ゆでたての蕎麦に熱いつゆをかけて食べる「かけそば」とゆでて水にさらして冷たくした蕎麦を冷たいつゆに浸して食べる「ざるそば」の二通りの食べ方があります。蕎麦とつゆに少量の薬味(ねぎ、唐辛子、わさびなど)をのせて食べるのが最もシンプルな食べ方ですが、好みの具(油揚げ、エビの天ぷら、生卵など)と一緒に食べることも多くあります。蕎麦は軽食として大変人気があり、特に昼食に好んで食べられています。

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