Soba noodles are a traditional Japanese favorite, composed mainly or purely of buckwheat flour.
Despite the name, buckwheat is unrelated to wheat and contains no gluten. Premium soba noodles are 100% buckwheat and thus are gluten-free. Still, you need to check labels and ingredients carefully before you buy "soba noodles" - mixtures of buckwheat and wheat flour (typically in an 80%/20% ratio) are also common.
Soba noodles are traditionally served in both hot (served in broth to make a noodle soup) and cold (chilled, with a dipping sauce) dishes. In western cultures today, they are often substituted for pasta and served with tomato or pesto sauces.
How to Cook Soba Noodles
The easiest way to prepare soba noodles is to simply cook as with other pastas; cover with ample water, bring to a full boil, reduce heat and simmer to desired tenderness. It is critical that soba be prepared al dente, as the noodles are easily overcooked.
When the noodles are firm yet tender to the bite they are done. Simmering for about 7- 8 minutes should be about right. Be sure and rinse immediately in cold running water to halt the cooking process and prevent clumping.
Many delicious and easy soba noodle recipes can be found online, providing an almost endless variety of ways to prepare this wholesome low glycemic carbohydrate source.
Nutritional Benefits of Soba Noodles
Soba is a convenient way to enjoy the flavor and exceptional health benefit of buckwheat, a staple food for many centuries in China, Russia, and central Europe (where it is called kasha).
The noodles are about the same thickness as spaghetti, but with about half the calories per ounce, and more nutrients. A one cup (cooked) serving of premium soba provides about 25 g of carbohydrates with a glycemic load of only 9.
Pure buckwheat flour (from which 100% buckwheat soba noodles are made) is quite rich in proteins and includes all 8 essential amino acids. Additionally, this type of soba contains antioxidants, choline, thiamine and riboflavin along with iron, phosphorus, and copper.
Updated May 9, 2014