Grow your own soba, and get much more than noodles

Tokyo Buckwheat

Do you have a favorite plant family? Polygonaceae, the buckwheat family, comes close for me.  I love the colorful tapestry that wild buckwheat (Eriogonum spp.) makes of the hillsides in California as the pink, white and yellow blooms open and age to a deep red.  Cultivated buckwheat (Fagopyrum sagittatum) is one of the most dependable forage plants a farm can plant for pollinators, especially in seasons when other nectar sources are scarce.  Then of course there is soba, the thin noodle synonymous with the buckwheat crop in Japan.

In summer, a bowl of soba with fresh watercress, cubes of tofu, tomatoes, cucumbers, shiitake mushrooms and a shoyu dipping sauce with a dab of wasabi makes a refreshing and satisfying weekday meal.  When the weather turns cool I warm up with a bowl of hot broth and soba noodles.  And a yeasted buckwheat waffle, buttery and feather light, captures the essence of a weekend morning.

So I can scarcely wait the three months for the Tokyo buckwheat we will plant this summer to mature.  In the meantime, I’ll be practicing my knife skills, as these noodles are cut by hand.