How to Cook Perfect Soba Noodles
This little tutorial came out of a complete fail of a meal I made a few weeks ago. My mom was in town and she wanted me to make a noodle bowl. I can usually rock these. Some sort of grilled meat with loads of veggies and a simple sauce with a noodle base. Easy enough right?!
Unless you screw up the noodles. I overcooked the noodles by about 30 seconds (because beer) and they turned into a gummy mess of a thing. Not exactly what I had in mind.
If I can screw it up, I figured I’m not the only one. So, I figured I would post the correct way to cook perfect soba noodles every single time. Step one is to ditch the instructions on the box that the soba came in. They are almost certainly wrong!
- Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add soba and use tongs to spread out. Cook for 150 seconds (2 1/2 minutes).
- Immediately drain soba and transfer to a bowl with cold water to stop the cooking.
- Once soba is cooled, drain and transfer to a few paper towels to dry.
- Toss cooled soba with a small drizzle of sesame oil and soy sauce. Maybe 1 teaspoon of both.
- Eat immediately with sesame seeds and/or scallions.
- You can also reheat the soba by quickly dipping it in hot water or stock.
Perfect Soba Noodles
Soba noodles are buckwheat noodles and they are much more fragile than, say, spaghetti. They cook faster and are much more delicate. While Italian pastas can stand a bit of overcooking, most soba noodles will turn into a complete mess if you overcook them.
So that’s our main rule here: Don’t over cook them!
The other big problem that can happen with soba noodles is clumping. You need to give them a lot of room to cook. I bring a big pot of water to boil for even 6-8 ounces of soba noodles. Give them lots of room to wiggle around as they boil.
SET A TIMER. Seriously. I’ll eyeball spaghetti, but not soba. 150 seconds. Most boxes will say three minutes, but I think that’s a bit long after a few tests. I like to err on the side of al dente.
Two and a half minutes and then they are out of the hot water and into cold water. This is the second most important step besides the timer. You have to cool these down as soon as possible. I prefer putting them in a bowl of cold water over rinsing them with cold water because the rinsing them compacts the noodles down while the bowl of cool water gives them room to stay separate.
Once they are cooled down you can keep them like that for a bit or drain them and dry them out on a few paper towels.
My preference is to drain them and then toss them with a small dash of sesame oil and soy sauce which will keep them from sticking and season the noodles nicely.
Our noodles are cold at this point and I actually prefer cold soba noodles, but if you want them hot, just dunk them in a pot of hot stock or water right before serving them.
Garnish with chives and sesame seeds and you’re in business.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever screwed up soba noodles and never want to do it again! ✋✋✋✋