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My soba noodles were a gummy mess

  • efdee Jul 29, 2008 08:44 AM

I've been using Eden soba (100% buckwheat) noodles in the same chicken salad recipe for years but lately the results have been awful. I probably overcooked the noodles (didn't simmer for 8 min like the pkg says) and I should definitely have rinsed with cold water, so the result was a small (for 6 dry oz), gray, gluey, mess. Does anyone have a fool-proof cooking method? TIA

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  1. I always have this problem, too. Looking forward to hearing about the solution!

    ~TDQ

    1. Unfortunately, they absorb water really quickly and are soft noodles to begin with, so don't make the best salad noodle.

      When I do use them in salads, I tend to cook them on the firm side (8 minutes seems really long to me, but I never measure time. I just keep testing the noodles and as soon as they lose the core, I stop cooking), then immediately dump them and rinse in very cold water, and then dump ice on them and keep them on a strainer so the water continues to get drained. My parents always serve soba on a bamboo strainer-like thing, which I don't have, so I just usu. put ice in a strainer and mix in the soba noodles.

      Also, I tend to use soba that is not 100 percent buckwheat, but since you said this used to work for you, I'm puzzled as to why it suddenly stopped working. In general, though, I also tend to keep the noodles dry (i.e. undressed) till the very last possible moment, or it'll get soft/soggy, etc.

      6 Replies
      1. re: anzu

        Anzu, I cook mine just the way you do, with the addition of a swirl of sesame oil, and they always turn out fine.

        I've never cooked them for 8 min, though, even though I usually don't time them but use the "lift and eat a strand" method.

        Last week, I cooked them in a chicken/soy sauce/ginger/sesame oil broth instead of plain water, and they are absolutely delicious. I had to hide them from my kid so there'd be enough left for company.

        1. re: Claudette

          Wow. That sounds fantastic! Did you save the broth afterwards or discard it?

          1. re: anzu

            Thanks soba experts. The broth sounds delish but tonight I will cook them in water, being careful not to overcook. And will rinse them in cold water before they stick together. BUT since they don't expand at all, how much should I allow for two servings? My pasta rule-of-thumb doesn't work.

            Anzu, I may only think that I have used buckwheat noodles for years, when it may really have been some buckwheat blend. I can't honestly say that I have paid much attention to the contents before things got nasty. Thanks.

            1. re: efdee

              The noodles that I usually use come in 4 bundles per pound. One bundle is enough for 2 people when eaten along with a hearty soup/stew like oden. I've never used 100% buckwheat noodles.

              Rinsing is important if the noodles are served 'dry' without a sauce. It removes the surface starch that makes them sticky. In a previous thread it was also claimed that periodically adding cold water to cooking noodles helps with texture. I thought of it primarily as a means of preventing boil-over.

              1. re: paulj

                Tried noodles that were a blend of buckwheat/wheat/lotus root, followed all the suggestions, and they came out fine. That's probably what I had used in the past and will continue to use. Are the soba noodles at Japanese restaurants like Soba Ya all buckwheat? TIA

            2. re: anzu

              I saved it for soup, but it didn't last long: Put shredded chicken, edamame, shitakes, more soba, sesame seeds and ginger in it.

        2. while rinsing them under cool water, rub them together with your fingers gently. I noticed that with some brands, this gets a lot of the sticky starch off of it better than just plain rinsing.

          1. Soba noodles, both fresh and dry, are packed with starch on them, and it needs to be rinsed off after cooking. You should boil them in the shortest amount of time it takes for the core to lose its hardness, strain them, quickly wash them in two changes of cold running tap water, and then plunge them into very cold ice water. After they're good and cold put them in a strainer and shake off as much water as you can.

            1. I slightly undercook them and plunge them in ice water before adding them to my dish. They are not gummy that way.

              1. I use the 100% buckwheat and yes you need to rinse under cold water after cooking. Works well.

                1. I've had trouble with soba noodles recently as well. I usually buy a Québec-made brand (a mixture of buckwheat and hard wheat) but I've bought a couple of Oriental brands and want to use them up. They are also a mixture of buckwheat and wheat, but I don't know what kind of wheat (durum or other). I've been cooking pasta since I was a child, and have never had gummy, overcooked noodles before.

                  I have a friend from out of town coming over this weekend, and I'm buying a bbq duck from a Southeast Asian shop nearby. I really want the noodles to be good. Even two minutes was too much. I think I should perhaps just plunge them in hot water and them drain and rinse them???

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lagatta

                    Are they fresh noodles ?? Two minutes doesn't sound like enough for dry soba... Can you post a photo of them and/or the package?

                    For your friend this weekend buy the noodles you have used before with success, it would suck to have a great meal for company ruined by the noodles.

                  2. You have to rinse all the starch off them after cooking. Also 100% buckwheat noodles fall apart very easily due to lack of gluten. I have much better results using the no boil method of cooking. (Put in boiling water, let the water return to a boil, then turn the burner off and cover the pot. Cook for the time suggested on the package but check early in case they cook faster. I've found that this gentler cooking method helps the noodles maintain their structural integrity.