I have to admit, buckwheat soba was rarely a go-to ingredient for me before I started eating gluten free, but I’ve since changed my tune. Soba’s toothsome bite and bold flavor may be a tad overwhelming for some, but it’s exactly those traits that lured me to the buckwheat camp.
Made from buckwheat flour (a gluten-free food, despite the “wheat” in its name), the brown noodles have a hearty chew and a hint of nuttiness. Soba tastes great hot, room temperature, or chilled, but because the noodles have a distinctive flavor, I either keep the sauce super simple to highlight that flavor or go completely bold to stand right up to it.
Although soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour, they usually contain some wheat flour as well, making anything but the pure buckwheat versions off-limits. You can find organic 100 percent buckwheat soba noodles at health food stores, upscale groceries, or online. Asian markets carry numerous brands of soba noodles, but you may have trouble finding one that’s made without wheat. The brands I’ve seen most frequently include Eden (100% Buckwheat Soba, 8 ounce package) and Mitoku (Organic 100% Soba Wheat Free Buckwheat Pasta, 7 ounce package). The noodles can be pricey (often around $7/package), but I find they make a very filling meal, chock full of both protein and fiber.
Many Japanese and Korean restaurants offer soba noodles on their menus, but remember to ask if they are entirely gluten free. Since you’re dealing with the noodle itself as well as the sauce, chances are slim to none. You’re much better off experimenting at home.