Soba à la Okinawa: You’ve never had noodles like this before
For more on Okinawa’s soba story (in Japanese), visit www.oki-soba.jp/about/okisoba.html
So(ba), what’s in a name?
There is more to how Okinawa soba got its name than just its place of origin.
Not long after the postwar reversion of Okinawa to the Japanese government in 1972, the mainland organization governing fair trade claims insisted that, according to its rules, Okinawan soba could not be sold as soba because it did not meet the minimum criteria.
According to Japan’s Fair Trade Commission, soba noodles must be comprised of at least 30 percent buckwheat. Traditional Okinawan-made soba noodles, however, have always been made with 100 percent wheat.
Many Okinawans protested the rule. In a bid to protect their traditional dish as well as livelihoods, Okinawa soba producers and the Okinawa Noodle Maker’s Union fought to have it changed. After lengthy negotiations, the Japanese government finally agreed to a compromise: It could be called, and hence sold, under the special name of “Okinawa soba.”
Oct. 17, 1978 was the day that Okinawa soba was finally, officially endorsed. Okinawans, not only celebrated the day as a victory, they made it a local holiday to honor the traditional dish and promote the local industry.
Okinawa Soba-no-Hi, or Okinawa Soba Day has been celebrated throughout the prefecture on Oct. 17 ever since.
Know your noodles: Names of local soba favorites
(Usually) Pork Belly & Soba Noodles
Pork Rib & Soba Noodles
Pigs Feet & Soba Noodles
Pork Cartilage & Soba Noodles
Vegetables & Soba Noodles
“Yushi Tofu Soba”
Tofu Curd & Soba Noodles
* Yushi tofu is coagulated, unformed Okinawa-style tofu (Shima tofu) that is eaten warm. Similar to “oboro tofu” in other parts of Japan, it’s favored for its rich soy taste. This tofu served in soba noodles, it is a popular dish on Okinawa.
Have a side of ‘Jushi’
“Jushi” is a rice dish prepared with a choice of ingredients, including pork and vegetables and is often served as a side dish with Okinawa soba. Each restaurant uses their own original broth to cook the rice. “Fuchiba jushi” is jushi with “fushiba,” or mugwort leaves.