Buckwheat Noodles with Fresh Tomato Sauce


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

An American Taste of Japan

An American Taste of Japan

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1985

  • About

The inspiration for this bicultural pasta came from Cafe Seiyoken, a chic New York establishment that prides itself on making waves on the culinary shores of the American east coast.


  • 1 pound plum tomatoes (fresh ones are best, but use drained, canned plum tomatoes if fresh are unavailable)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • ½ small yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon mirin (syrupy rice wine)
  • 10–12 ounces dried soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles) OR 1 pound fresh whole-wheat noodles
  • 4-5 leaves fresh shiso (flat-leafed Japanese herb) or 10–12 leaves fresh mint
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)


Bring a pot of water to a boil and, one at a time, blanch the tomatoes for 4–5 seconds. Transfer the tomatoes to a bowl of cold water. Slice them in half and peel off the skins. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-duty skillet, then sauté the garlic and onion over medium heat until the vegetables are fragrant and translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes and season the mixture with the salt and syrupy rice wine. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the tomato sauce, stirring occasionally, for 5–6 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender and the sauce slightly thickened. If the mixture should look in danger of scorching, add a few drops of cold water to the skillet.

In a large pot, bring at least 3 quarts of water to a rolling boil. If you’re using dried noodles, scatter them across the boiling water and stir when they become pliable. As soon as the water returns to a boil, add 1 cup of cold water. Start timing the noodles after the water returns to a second boil. Cook for 3–4 minutes. Test a strand; it should be firm but tender. If you’re cooking fresh noodles, cook them for 2–3 minutes after the water returns to its first boil. Drain the cooked noodles and rinse lightly under warm water to remove excess starch. Drain thoroughly.

Toss the cooked and drained noodles into the tomato sauce and cook for 1 minute, or until warmed through.

Rinse the shiso or mint leaves under cold water and trim away their stems. With your fingers, tear the leaves into small pieces and use these to garnish the noodles with tomato sauce. Serve immediately with freshly ground black pepper, if you wish.