Fresh Buckwheat Noodles


I don’t think I have ever come across freshly made buckwheat noodles before. The only posts I have on soba are here (worth going back to to read the comments, they are vintage reader banter that often adds more to the discussion than the original post) or here. I assumed buckwheat was a type of wheat, but I was wrong. It turns out it’s actually “a fruit seed that’s related to rhubarb and sorrel” according to this site and it goes on to talk about how darned healthy it is.


I have always liked soba noodles and now that I know how healthy they are, I really should eat more of them! But coming across (first) this beautiful basket above filled with balls of fresh buckwheat and later in the market these incredibly long and beautiful looking noodles was a real treat and revelation.


It seems the noodles are a dark brown when relatively freshly made, and still damp. As they dry out, they turn a lighter color, such as these in the basin. Apparently preparing and eating wet vs. grocery dry buckwheat are experiences that are world’s apart, but I’m not sure how, since I didn’t get a chance to have them this fresh anywhere we ate, or at least I wasn’t aware of it. Btw, noodles are a BIG deal in this part of china, because rice doesn’t grow abundantly in these parts… They have lots of winter wheat, hence the abundance of heavy dumplings and other noodles, rather than rice.


6 Responses

  1. In Europe and more recently here in North America, pickling is the favoured hobby of old men. Apparently, in Japan, it’s taking soba making lessons from celebrated masters. Youtube has lots of related clips on the subject. And yes, reconstituted dried soba is but a pale shadow of freshly made ones and without previous knowledge, one might even assume they are unrelated.

  2. I had dinner earlier this year in Honke Owariya, the oldest restaurant in Japan (since 1465) which specializes in soba and confectionaries. It seems that soba in Japan has a different color than the ones you encountered in China. The ones in Japan are lighter in color (greyish light brown). I read somewhere that 100% buckwheat soba noodles tend to be brittle so they mix in wheat flour

  3. I think these are called hele (huh-luh). Strangely, the same word can also be used for a kind of noodle made from sorghum. Usually made with 100% buckwheat/sorghum flour but I’ve seen grocery versions that are lighter in color and has a chewier texture from the addition of wheat flour. All are popular Northern Chinese food items. Flavor takes a bit getting used to because to me, it seemed to leave a grassy/bitter-ish taste whether it’s stir fried, in a soup, or cold. Not really unpleasant…just…odd.

  4. MM, do you know that buckwheat is grown here in Mindanao (I think near Dipolog) by a Japanese company?

  5. They grow here too (Southern Ontario) adjacent to apiaries that produce buckwheat honey, a breakfast staple that Canadian friends are fond of. It has a funky flavour that Filipinos sniff at although not as dismissively as they do at our frying garlic.



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