109 - Master Noodle Making 101
I was mistakenly under the impression that I'd actually tried real soba noodles -- until I met the soba noodle master himself, Tetsuya "Ted" Iizuka. Hailing from Tokyo, this former salary man decided to dedicate his life to two of his passions -- buckwheat flour and hand made soba noodles.
Watching Ted make what he calls "sophisticated" noodles is watching ancient Japanese techniques come to life in the most lyrical way possible. It took Ted years to learn the processes behind mixing and rolling out the flour, and many more months to learn the precise art of cutting the noodles using a heavy, specially crafted knife for the task.
In the humidity-controlled basement of his suburban home, Ted uses Japanese stone mills to grind Manitoba buckwheat flour which he tells me is some of the finest in the world. The end result is a delicate, nutty, fragrant noodle that Ted declares is best eaten cold -- in the zaru soba fashion.
To enjoy these noodles as if you were in Tokyo, it's suggested that you not eat "junk food" for at least two weeks prior and drink water to cleanse the palate. As soon as you're served your noodles, consume immediately as they will loose their full flavour and aroma if left to sit.
Trying Ted's version compared to the pre-packaged product you can buy in many stores is like comparing foie-gras to chicken liver pate. Both have their place, but as Ted points out, most of what we get should be called "udon with buckwheat flavour" because it only contains about 30 per cent buckwheat. It's a great source of lysine (helps prevent high blood pressure), high in protein, gluten-free and tastes great -- no wonder some consider buckwheat "the king of grains."
Noodle Master Maker Tetsuya "Ted" Iizuka
416-436-7997 (for personal classes or to place an order)
photo credit: Mary Luz Mejia