Did you know that there is also a good season for soba? I will tell you the time of shin soba.
Japanese people love soba. There are many soba shops in town, and it is eaten often at home. Also, there are customs to eat soba such as Hikkoshi soba or Toshikoshi soba on every annual occasion or at a turning point in life. Soba is a daily food that you can eat regardless of the season, but there is a good season for soba. If you get in a soba shop in the season, you can taste the most delicious soba in the year.
When is the best season for soba?
The most delicious soba is shin soba. Shin soba is newly-harvested soba. Buckwheat flour is very delicate and the taste and scents deteriorate over time. So, the fresher soba is, the better it tastes. A year’s worth of buckwheat is harvested in autumn and stored while soba shops or flour mills companies try not to damage the flavor. Nowadays the cooling and freezing technics have advanced and you can taste delicious soba throughout the year, but fresh soba which has been just harvested is rich in scent, taste, texture and color. So it seems that autumn will be the best season for soba, but in fact it isn’t always the case.
There are two types of shin soba: ""akishin""(Autumn fresh) to harvest from autumn and ""natsushin""(Summer fresh) to harvest from early summer to summer. In the past, it was said that ""Even a dog ignores summer soba"", but now that the cultivation technology has improved, and delicious ""natsushin"" has appeared. The main producing area of ""natsushin"" is Hokkaido, and it has a refreshing taste with umami after taking plenty of light from the sun. This refreshing feeling is attractive in the hot summer. ""Akishin"" has more pronounced scents than ""natsushin"", and the taste deepens. Both have tastes suitable for the season. In addition, the harvest time differs for each production area in Japan that is long north to south. Hokkaido's ""akishin"" harvest starts in late August, but in Kyushu you can harvest until late January. By the way, ""akishin""from Togakushi in Shinsyu, a representative of high-quality soba, will be on the market around mid-November. Because the harvesting period for Japanese soba lasts for nearly half a year, it is the best season when you find a notice of ""Shin soba has arrived"" in a soba restaurant.
Since when has soba been eaten?
Soba is not a rare ingredient, and it is eaten in various countries of the world. There are a variety of soba dishes such as French Garrett, Italian buckwheat pasta, Russian buckwheat porridge, Kasha, Nepalese buckwheat mash curry and so on. In the neighboring country, Korea, North Korea, China, and Bhutan, soba is processed into noodles to eat like in Japan.
Japanese people have been eating soba since the Jomon Period. From the ruins in Kochi prefecture pollen of about 9000 years old has been found. There are various opinions on the beginning of the customs of processing soba into noodles as now, but in the early Edo period, it was eaten under the name of ""sobakiri"". Around that time, soba evolved from millet to noodle, and there was at least one soba shop in a town during the Edo period. It is a Japanese tradition to value the sense of the season, and Edo folks were waiting eagerly for shin soba in autumn.
Why do you slurp soba?
When eating soba, Japanese people make slurping sound. Foreigners frown seeing the manner of slurping, because it is rude and uncomfortable. But the faster you slurp, the better soba tastes. You feel soba is ""delicious"" when crispy soba smells good in your mouth and goes down your throat smoothly. When soba passes through your throat, the smell scatters in your nose and you can enjoy it twice in your mouth and nose. This series of actions will not be completed unless you slurp soba at first.
In wine tasting, you will feel the scent in your mouth while rolling the wine in your mouth, and enjoy the scent that goes further into your nose. Soba is similar to it, ""the scent in the mouth"" which passes from the mouth to the nose is the best part of it . By slurping, some air gets into your mouth at the same time and more smells spread out. ""Slurping"" is a Japanese food culture that can not be changed. However, it can be rather vulgar to splatter some of your soup around by slurping. You should slurp as nicely as possible.
What kind of soba? Is it good for your body?
There are various kinds of soba. There are four types of flours produced when buckwheat is milled, the grade one flour is made of the endosperm at the center part of buckwheat, the grade two flour in green-yellow color is around the endosperm, and the grade three flour is the blackish part of the outer buckwheat among the grade two flour which is further milled, and the grade four flour comes out at the end of flour milling. The type of soba changes depending on which flour you use. If you make with the grade one flour, you will get ""Sarashina"", the grade two flour will be ""Hikigurumi"", the grade three flour will be ""Yabu"" or ""Inaka Soba"", and the grade four will be ingredients for dry noodles.
Soba contains 30% more protein than white rice, and abundant vitamin B group as well. It is characterized by a lot of rutin of vitamin P, and this rutin is a rejuvenating nutrient which works to make blood thinner and strengthen a capillary. It also contains dietary fiber and has the effect of discharging cholesterol in the intestine out of the body.
Soba can grow up well even in a poor mountain land and is a healthy natural food with rich nutritional value. Slurp nicely and enjoy the deep taste and smell.