Yamizo Soba Street Association (Tochigi Prefecture)
In Yamizo area in Tochigi Prefecture, Yamizo Soba Street Association and buckwheat farmers are bringing back an old secret to make soba milder, sweeter and more flavorful. That is leaving unhulled buckwheat chilled in cold water in the basin of a waterfall in Nikko, also in Tochigi Prefecture. This winter, a total of 3.2 tons of unhulled buckwheat was put in the cold water to match the volume last year. The buchwheat will be left in the water for as long as one week. Soba made with the cold-washed buckwheat is called kanzarashi soba and served at local soba restaurants that are members of the association, starting in July.
The association is made of four cities in the area, Agricultural Industry Promotion Council of Tochigi Prefecture, and a local tourism association. It was founded six years ago with an aim to revitalize local communities by using soba as one of their regional specialties. In Summer of 2013, it kicked off a campaign to promote the sales of kanzarashi soba.
This year again, 30 members gathered to work on the task in winter. First, they put unhulled buckwheat in knitted bags, 25 kilograms each, tightened the bags together on a piece of long rope, and put the bags into the waterfall basin. Approximately one week later, the bags are pulled out the water. The cold-washed buckwheat will be dried in air for three days and kept in storage until July to mature.
Toyomi Horie, President of the association, explained, “The maturing process is very important to make our soba even sweeter. I’m please to tell you that our soba this year is particularly good. I hope many would come and enjoy our soba this summer.”
(Jan. 27, 2015)