3. Soba Noodles Made with Lotus-Root
もちもちつるつる (mochi-mochi tsuru-tsuru): springy and smooth (texture)
(usually used separately, but the ad for the noodles uses both in combination)
Looking back on all the places I’ve lived, the two things that make me happiest about a residence are farmers’ markets and quaint historic districts with locally run businesses. I first discovered this back in university, when I stayed in Denver for an internship one summer. Nearly every Sunday, I would head down to the Old South Pearl Street Farmers’ Market to buy bread and homemade pasta. My then-boyfriend, now-spouse and I were particularly intrigued by Pasta More’s sweet potato fettuccine, which we affectionately referred to as “weird pasta” for the duration of the summer because it was so out of the realm of our student diets. (I highly recommend it–it’s delicious!)
Japan is less of a “pasta” country, but soba, udon, and ramen are staples here. When I was in Iwakuni, my friend and I stopped in an omiyage shop to see about getting some Iwakuni renkon (lotus root) products, as renkon is the local specialty.
I decided on a bag of Ikemoto Shokuhin Iwakuni Renkon Soba: two servings of dried soba noodles made of renkon and packets of stock to make the soba broth. The company also sells renkon ramen and renkon udon. I followed the directions on the packet (boil noodles, mix stock and hot water, serve hot); added diced green onions (negi, ネギ) and freshly grated ginger (shôga, ショウガ); and served with a side of kinpira gobo and carrots.
Renkon doesn’t have a particularly strong flavor, but the soba did have the light flavor of renkon. What was noticeably different was that noodles were perfectly al dente–the texture was slightly smoother than regular soba. I think I could have thinned out the broth a little more, but it was a delicious twist on a simple Japanese dish.
Ikemoto Shokuhin (池本食品)