Buckwheat noodles with mushroom tare

I literally came up with this recipe because I was craving soba noodles, and I happened to heat a ton of buckwheat groats, so I figured, why not make my own. For those who aren’t sure what buckwheat groats are, they are basically the unhulled seed of a buckwheat plant. You grind those to form buckwheat flour, which is used to make Japanese soba noodles. I used a spice grinder to grind my groats, since the traditional buckwheat grinder is this stone contraption that looks really expensive. Because buckwheat has no gluten in it, making a dough can be tricky. Most soba noodle recipes will call for flour, though the amount varies, depending on the firmness you want to achieve. Master soba makers can make soba noodles with 90-100% buckwheat flour, which while impressive, takes years of practice to do. Which is why my recipe only calls for 50/50 in terms of buckwheat to normal flour. While using 100% buckwheat is impressive, I find that buckwheat has this earthy taste to it that can be really intense and almost medicinal. So I opted for a happy medium of using enough to flavor the dough slightly, but not so much that you feel like you’re licking gravel. Instead of calling my noodles soba, they are simply noodles because I kept them wider cut, just because I like the texture more against the meatier mushrooms.

For the other components, we have a mushroom tare, which is a flavorful broth, and roasted mushrooms. For the tare, I’m using juniper berries, which have this pleasant pine-like flavor to them. Mostly because I purchased a jar of juniper berries years ago, and I never ran out of them because they are kind of a pain to use. That and I wanted the dish to almost effect the pine-like flavor of matsutake mushrooms, but without having to spend money on actual matsutakes. I am also using bacon or pork belly in the dish, just to add in some meatiness, and because I am caramelizing the mushrooms in the pork fat. To finish, furikakke for pops of umami and crunch, and an egg yolk, which when mixed into the tare, creates this ultra-rich broth that the noodles and mushrooms just soak up. This is a dish that I would happily eat for any meal of the day and in fact, I have eaten in for all three meals before. You can adds clams to the broth and blanched and shocked leeks on top as well, if you want to add more flavor, color, or texture, or even sub out the king oysters for matsutakes when they are in season, but I presented this recipe in its simplest form.

For the buckwheat noodles:
50g buckwheat flour*
50g all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
a pinch of salt

Mix together to form your dough, kneading the dough until it is completely smooth at the sides. Roll out the dough to about 1/16th an inch thickness. Either pass the dough through a pasta cutter or cut it with a sharp knife to form your noodles. Boil in heavily salted water for 1-2 minutes and store in cold water until time to serve.

To make buckwheat flour:
Buckwheat groats

Toast the buckwheat groats on low heat for 2 minutes. Then transfer to a spice grinder and blend until a fine powder, sifting out any lumps as necessary.

For the tare:
1oz dried kombu
2 juniper berries*
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp canola oil
2 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tsp instant dashi powder
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp mirin
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp mushroom soy sauce

On an open flame, roast the kombu for 10 seconds on each side. In a pot, heat up oil with juniper berries, garlic, and shallot until translucent. Add in all of your ingredients to the pot at that point and bring to a simmer on low heat, while covered, for 30 minutes. Strain out the solid ingredients. making sure to reserve the shiitakes for the roasted mushrooms. Keep the tare warm for serving.

For the roasted mushrooms:
1oz pork belly or bacon, in thin slices
2 king oyster mushrooms, stalks sliced into medallions and tops julienned
2 reserved shiitake mushrooms, julienned

Render out the bacon or pork belly in a cast iron or nonstick pan. Remove the pork once crispy. Add in the mushrooms and season with salt. Sautee the mushrooms until golden brown.

For garnish:
1 egg yolk

Start with the noodles first. Pour in the tare, and garnish with the mushrooms, crisped pork, egg yolk, and furikakke to finish.

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