Like many great inventions, this recipe was borne of an abject failure. Any reasonable person would have admitted defeat and tossed the initial results without a second thought, but then again, no one has ever accused me of such distinction.
It all started with a used pasta maker, the catalyst for a deep-dive into all sorts of noodles, common and obscure, simple and complex, to see what I could churn out at home. After working through soba and pappardelle and more, I hit upon rokube. Served on Tsushima Island, this local specialty is made of sweet potato flour mixed with grated yams as a means of creating more nutritious noodles during times of scarcity. Though rudimentary recipes do exist, they aren’t well detailed, leading to some very questionable cuisine.
Obviously, sweet potato flour is different from sweet potato starch, and perhaps they meant actual sweet potatoes instead of what I assumed were nagaimo. Thus, my attempt was doomed from the start. Nagaimo are known for having a uniquely slimy texture when grated or pureed; also known as “neba neba” in Japanese. This gooey mouthfeel is difficult for many western palates to accept, so be forewarned that what follows may not suit all tastes.
So, merrily, I measured out all the wrong ingredients and was surprised to see that it didn’t work at all- What a shock! Though the dough seemed stiff and difficult to knead, it refused to come out of the nozzle and when at rest, it appeared to liquefy. It was such a bizarre consistency that it defies easy explanation.
This is where I should have given up, but thrifty and scrap-happy cook that I am, I racked my brain for any way to salvage the mess. How about… Drying it out in the oven? Sure, why not? Into a greased sheet pan it went and it did indeed set into a sheet of odd, floppy, white and translucent starch. Next, still stuck on the idea of noodles, it only made logical sense to slice it into ribbons and proceed as planned.
Shockingly, flying in the face of all common sense, it actually worked. The strands cooked up as intended, remaining intact yet tender, and incredibly, extremely chewy. Very neba neba.
Served chilled and topped with additional nagaimo, this is a taste experience for the adventurous, seeking something refreshing and cool that offers textures not otherwise found in most common cookery. Slippery, springy, and slightly gooey, you must be able to embrace slime to appreciate it. Other neba neba ingredients can be added to enhance the sensation, like natto and sliced fresh okra.
There are probably easier ways to arrive at such a result, but through the process of experimentation, I’m just happy to land at such satisfying end results. It never hurts to keep trying and pushing forward, no matter the questionable path!
- 240 Grams Sweet Potato Starch
- 115 Grams Nagaimo Puree*, Plus Additional for Topping
- 1/2 Cup Water
To Serve (Optional):
- Soy Sauce
- Nagaimo Puree*
- Scallion, Thinly Sliced
- Toasted Nori, Shredded
- Fresh Okra, Sliced
- To make the noodles, combine the sweet potato starch and nagaimo puree in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, slowly combine on the lowest speed. Gradually drizzle in the water while the motor is running, until completely smooth and fully incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the side of the bowl to make sure there are no pockets of dry starch remaining.
- Transfer to a lightly greased half sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool completely before turning out onto a cutting board and slicing into thin ribbons, no wider than 1/4 inch.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the sliced noodles and cook for 5 - 6 minutes, until they float and look translucent. Drain thoroughly and rinse in cold water.
- Distribute the noodles between two bowls and top with any of the additional serving suggestions, as desired. Enjoy chilled!
*To make nagaimo puree, be sure to wear gloves at the flesh can cause those with sensitive skin to itch or burn. Peel and roughly chop the nagaimo. Place in your food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 629Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 518mgCarbohydrates: 114gFiber: 13gSugar: 10gProtein: 27g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.