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Jan 19, 2012 09:53 AM

Looking for Japanese buckwheat: soba gome.

My Whole Foods doesn't have it. Would H-Mart? I'm looking for the fine buckwheat groats imported from Japan.

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  1. Have you tried Ebisuya in Medford?

    Ebisuya Japanese Market
    65 Riverside Ave, Medford, MA 02155

    1 Reply
    1. re: emannths

      No, thanks for the suggestion. I will look there.

    2. All of the Russian places in Boston have it. Baza, Bazaar, Berezka, etc. I think I have seen them at Arax as well.

      Do be sure to pay attention to the fact that there are toasted and untoasted varieties I believe.

      5 Replies
      1. re: StriperGuy

        These aren't sources from Japan though, right? Any idea how the eastern European ones compare to the Japanese ones? I don't know what OP has in mind for them, but it seems like buckwheat may be processed differently in Japan, as many people that try making soba noodles with American buckwheat flour fail but success with the Japanese stuff.

        1. re: emannths

          You are right, emannths, the eastern European kasha style of buckwheat groats are not the same. The Japanese buckwheat groats actually puff up a little when you toast them and they have a milder, although still nutty, flavor. (But I love kasha, too.)

          1. re: Ketzela

            Pretty sure you are just talking about the difference between toasted and un-toasted varieties:


            If you try to use something called Kasha to make soba, you are definitely sunk.

            Not 100% sure, but I think if you find the raw kind, which they have at Russian places as well, then it is the variety you are looking for.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              Actually, the buckwheat used for soba is a different variety than that used in eastern European cooking. It has a smaller hull and a different flavor; it's not just the difference between toasted and untoasted buckwheat. I will try Ebisuya, a new resource to me and I don't live all that far from Medford!

      2. Mistake, please disregard......

        1. An update for anyone else who might want to find this ingredient. I couldn't get it at H-Mart or the little Japanese grocery (Miso?) in Porter Square by the bus stop. I haven't been to Ebisuya yet to check there, but in the end, I ordered it online from naturalimport in New Hampshire. They carry the Mitoku line of soba products, and the soba gome was beautiful! Much milder in taste than kasha, chewier and more distinct in granulation (more like rice) than Bob's Red Mill Cream of Buckwheat. I prepared it by toasting it in a pan on the stove (I'm not sure that was necessary with this version, but I do it with Bob's Red Mill to get a richer flavor.) Then I mixed in some unsalted sunflower seeds and chicken stock and cooked it in my rice cooker. Really good!

          P.S. H-Mart does carry buckwheat flour for anyone looking to make their own soba noodles.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Ketzela

            yum, this sounds terrific. i'll try your version, so thx! if you like this type of grain texture, you might want to seek out freekeh, or green wheat/toasted wheat/ smoked wheat. Sevan and Arax sell it and Oleana puts it in/on a lot of their dishes.

          2. Excerpted from Cornell university Buckwheat Varieties page, program leader Dr. Thomas Bjorkman:

            Koto became available to growers in the Northeast for the first time in 2002. It was developed in a joint project between Cornell University and Kade Research, and funded by Birkett Mills. Koto was in commercial trials in New York annually from 1999 through 2001. It has outyielded Manisoba by 13% on average and is more stress tolerant.

            Manisoba has outperformed Manor by about 10% in New York trials since 1995, and has been contracted since 2000. While 200 was a terrible year to introduce a new variety, it is a superior variety that is the mainstay of Northeast production.

            Manor was the dominant variety through the 1990s. It has large seeds that are required by customers making whole groats or soba noodles. It meets the international market grade.

            Keukett is another newer variety, exclusive (??) to Birkett Mills.

            So, from the above we can conclude that Birkett Mills might be a good place to start inquiring about US supplies of buckwheat suitable for soba production. Next would be Dr. Thomas Bjorkman.

            ANSON MILLS has some Japanese heirloom buckwheat flour, and some buckwheat + wheat flour formulated for soba. Both $85/10 lbs.