soba-packageWhen it comes to comfort food, I’m still a Jersey boy at heart – give me a plate of pasta any day.  Although the long corkscrews known as fusili lunghi are my favorite, I’m an equal opportunity eater when it comes to shapes.  I’m not even particularly picky when it comes to toppings.  I enjoy a good garlicky pesto; a simple toss with olive oil, parmesan and black pepper; and a nice tomato gravy (we don’t call it sauce where I come from) from time to time.

It should come as no surprise, then, that I was struck by a feature in one of our foodie magazines (Everyday Food) highlighting soba.  These buckwheat noodles are prevalent in Japanese cooking, whether served in soups, salads or on their own with a dipping sauce.  Soba (and buckwheat in general) contain high quantities of cholesterol-lowering B-vitamins and rutin, an antioxidant.  So we decided to give it a try.

soba-soupWe found one recipe within the feature that caught our eye, a soba soup with shiitake and spinach.  Looking through our cookbooks, we also found a recipe in John Ash’s “From the Earth to the Table” for Japanese-style grilled salmon with a cold soba noodle salad.  We decided to check out both to experience soba in two very different ways.

One of the recipes was a home run; the other, not so much.

Which one was which (and the secret behind the soba that’s “No. 1 in Japan”) after the jump. (more…)