(Z)aru Soba #atozchallenge

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet with the theme ‘Food Memories‘.

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The first time I tried zaru soba or cold soba noodles was on an airplane heading to Tokyo. I was 15 and tt was my first trip to a country which I’d grow to love. I was travelling with my sister, younger brother and father, to visit my mother who was in Japan for a one-year study tour.

Similar to the cold soba served in-flight that I had years ago

During the in-flight dinner service, we were each given a tray which had a bowl of green noodles (which I later learnt was soba), a bottle of sauce labeled ‘noodle sauce’ (duh), a small sachet of wasabi and a small empty bowl containing a packet of small pieces of dried seaweed and slices of spring onions. Thankfully, there were no quail eggs in sight.

My siblings and I had no idea what we were to do with this concoction. My father, who sat in the aisle across from us, pointed at the different bowls on our tray and mimed some actions, which none of us could decipher. He then took out a pen and started scribbling on a paper napkin. He reached across the aisle to pass the napkin to us, and we saw that he had scribbled instructions including drawings for how to eat cold soba! I wish I’d kept that napkin, his instructions were hilarious.

However, since I no longer have it, here’s a How-to video for those of you who’re never tried cold soba – The Right Way to Eat Cold Soba Noodles.

Yummy (Y)uba #atozchallenge

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet with the theme ‘Food Memories‘.

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Yuba, or bean curd skin, refers to the film that forms atop soy milk when it is heated. 

Tofu skin (or foo chok) which are sold as dried leaves or sheets, is quite a common ingredient here. I’ve added it to soups and canned sardines. However, I’d not tried fresh tofu skin, or yuba, until I visited Nikkō, a city almost a 2 hour train ride from Tokyo.

Walking through the streets of Nikkō, most of the eateries featured yuba, as it is the city’s local delicacy. There was deep-fried yuba, yuba sushi, yuba gyoza, yuba burgers, Japanese curry with yuba, yuba with jelly, yuba soup, yuba-don, and yuba cream inside rice cookies!

Our primary destination that day was Nikkō Tōshō-gū, a well-known Shinto shrine located in the city. But before heading there, we wanted to give yuba a try, so we started looking around for a legit-looking restaurant that served it and that’s how we ended up in 神橋庵 (which Google translate tells me is Ryo Takahashi), a soba noodle shop, along the main street.

We were lucky to have found a seat in the restaurant when we did because just as we entered, it had begun to rain and tourists looking for shelter started queuing to get in.

Like most restaurants who relied on income from tourists, they had an English menu and we ordered a yuba appetiser and two bowls of yuba soba (hehe it rhymes).

I expected yuba to taste strongly of soy milk but I was pleasantly surprised that it just had a clean and nondescript flavour. Dipping it into the sauce that accompanied the appetiser added to the dish and the pickled daikon radish on the side suited it well. We polished off everything we ordered in no time at all! Yes, the yuba was yummy!

A quick search revealed that there are plenty of recipes detailing how to make your own yuba, which is good since I have no idea when I’ll be able to reach the city of Nikkō again.

Are you a fan of tofu? If yes, what’s your favourite tofu dish?

No (Q)uail Eggs with My Cold Soba Please #atozchallenge

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet with the theme ‘Food Memories‘.

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One of my favourite dishes to order when I’m at a Japanese restaurant is cold buckwheat noodles or cold soba. I like that it’s an interactive dish, requiring the diner to prepare the dipping sauce to their own taste, after which the cold noodles are dunked into.

Sometimes, the dish is served with a raw quail egg which is intended to be added to the dipping sauce. I tried doing that once, dipped my cold noodles into the cold sauce which had the raw egg, sliced spring onions and grated white radish in it and tasted it. And almost puked. All I could taste was the raw egg. And every time I licked my lips, more raw egg. So much ugh.

Since that one failed culinary experiment, every time there was a quail egg served with my cold soba, I’d pass the raw egg to one of my siblings to add to their cold soba. They seemed to think nothing of the egg-y taste in their dipping sauce. Ugh. Recently though, since my siblings aren’t around when I indulge in this favourite dish of mine, I’d just glare at that raw quail egg wishing it wasn’t there.

Have you ever eaten (or slurped) a raw egg? Did you like it? (Ugh)