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Soba noodles are a Japanese healthy eating staple. Made from buckwheat they can be used in soups, stir fries, or as is common in Japan in summer, eaten cold. Which means they work perfectly instead of rice in sushi – a little dish I’m referring to as Noo-shi but which is commonly known as soba sushi or noodle sushi. Look, check this out…..
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These rolls were made by Japanese food company Clearspring using their new Skinny Soba Somen noodles. These are thinner than traditional buckwheat noodles and as such they make the perfect filling for an even healthier version of rice based sushi.
Why Is Soba Sushi Healthy?
Normal sushi can actually be quite high in sugar. Not only is sushi rice highly refined so it turns quickly to sugar in your system, properly made sushi can also use vinegar and sugar to add extra flavour – which also increases the glycemic index.
Sushi rolls are also quite dense because the rice needs to be squished down to stick together. For that reason, they also contain potentially more carbs and calories than you might think for something so small. A sushi roll that’s big enough to cut into, say, five or six pieces, probably has about 200- 250 calories – if you have lots of full fat mayonnaise or fried fillings, that is likely to be more.
Because buckwheat has a lower GI than rice it naturally means that noo shi won’t send your blood sugar levels spiking as high – making it less likely to trigger sudden munchies about two hours later as normal sushi can. On top of that, this recipe doesn’t add extra sugar.
In terms of calories, the rolls in the recipe below will contain about the same calories than rice rolls – they use half a 200g pack of thin soba noodles which contains 353 calories – and they make three rolls. Depending what you then use for filling, you’re probably looking at 200-250 calories per roll.
Soba noodles are also good sources of manganese and contain the B vitamin thiamine.
Despite it’s name, buckwheat doesn’t contain actual wheat and so it’s also gluten free.
Plus, noo-shi it’s a great word. Go, say it again….Noo-shi. Noo-shi. Noo – shi
So how easy is noodle sushi to make if you’re not a professional Japanese chef? Well here’s some I made earlier.
Okay, so they aren’t as perfect looking as the Clearspring ones, but hey, they still tasted good. Here’s the recipe and what I learned while making them.
How to Make Soba Sushi
What you’ll need
A pack of soba noodles – I used Clearspring Skinny Soba which fit easily in the rolls.
Some ingredients for filling (see below)
A Sushi Rolling Mat
The instructions given to me by Clearspring went as follows (I may be paraphrasing) – cook the noodles, place noodles into ridiculously complicated bundles, do some other stuff – create skinny little rolls that look funny. So instead, here’s what I did for my second and third noodle sushi rolls that turned out a bit better.
1) Cook the noodles in boiling water for 3 minutes (NB: do not fill the pan with too much water, it will boil over). About half a 200g pack makes enough for 3 sheets of seaweed (about 18 cut pieces).
2) Once cooked drain and rinse in cold water.
3) Place the noodles to dry on a tea towel. Try and keep them in fairly straight lines if you can and spread them thinly. As they get cooler they become a little easier to work. If they get too sticky, wet your fingers.
4) Prepare whatever you are going to fill the Noo-shi with other than the noodles. We had fairly empty cupboards so I just had to go with tuna mayo and avocado and tuna mayo and cucumber – you could use anything you’d normally use for sushi, but I do think it needs either a line of wasabi or a sticky filling at the top to make them hold together. The noodles do get tacky but they aren’t as good as sushi rice at holding everything tight.
5) Put your seaweed sheet on the rolling mat. Start placing the noodles along the mat. Keep the layer thin but make sure they are packed tightly together or the rolls will be small and spindly. Finish just past halfway.
6) Place your other filings in the roll. I found it worked best to have two lines of the veggie bit of the filling towards the bottom of the nori sheet on top of the noodles, and then the sticky filling went in a stand alone thick line that ends about 1-2cm from the top. Working from what I’ve learned with rice sushi, I then put one noodle along the top as a sealer.
6) Roll the mat as per normal sushi. As I say, the noodles aren’t as easy to work with as rice so do it slowly.
7) Cut the roll into six. Start at the middle and use a VERY sharp knife.
This is much harder to cut than rice sushi as if you don’t get a clean cut the noodles move and dangle out of the top.
I discovered before when cutting sushi, that it really helps if the knife is wet – and the most I found I could cut without having to wipe and dampen it again to prevent roll-mageddon was two slices.
8) Serve as normal with soy, wasabi and miso.
Noodles aren’t the only hack that helps make sushi healthier – you can also try making sushi with quinoa. If you want to try that, check out this recipe from celebrity health guru, Davina McCall.
If you’d still like a little bit more help – or want to try their original instructions in case you get prettier rolls than I did, Clearspring have now put a Soba Sushi video on YouTube – check it out below for instructions from the absolute experts.
Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster, and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail, and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.