Soba Chefs, Local Japanese Chefs Visit USS George Washington

Soba Chefs, Local Japanese Chefs Visit USS George Washington

Soba chefs from the Shonan International Women’s Association and local Japanese chefs visited the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), March 6 to teach enlisted culinary specialists and other interested Sailors how to prepare and cook Soba, a traditional Japanese noodle dish.

The local chefs taught a wide variety of cooking techniques to Sailors of all ranks in attendance. From junior enlisted, to chiefs and officers, Sailors learned how to properly prepare the Soba from scratch.

“The most challenging part was the hand movements,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Recruit Samantha Santiago. “You have to be almost perfect because if you don’t finish it quickly the noodles will dry out.”

Although the origins of Soba are debatable, it is commonly know that Soba became a popular dish in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868) where it was produced in temples and eaten in tea ceremony establishments.
Soba is a very thin noodle that is made from buckwheat flour.

It is prepared by creating thick dough, flattening it out and then layering before carefully slicing each individual noodle into the correct width, and finally molding them into the proper shape. The preparation for the noodles alone takes approximately 40 minutes, with only a minute and a half to cook them.

After the joint team of chiefs ensured the meal was properly cooked, the culinary specialists alongside the local soba chefs prepared and served the Soba with seaweed, green onions and a fish soup to George Washington’s commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief in the ship’s wardroom.

“Everyone enjoyed tasting the soba noodles,” said Santiago.

“The noodles were actually colder than you would expect,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Katherine Laboy. “The temperature caught me completely off guard.”

Sailors aboard George Washington are typically served American-style foods, yet with the chance to grow more familiar with Japanese foods and dishes it allows the chance of expansion in the diversity of the ship’s galley food.

It’s fulfilling to say that I’ve lived in Japan for three years and learned how to make local Japanese food,” said Santiago. “When I get home [back in the U.S] I would love the chance to show everyone what I’ve learned.”

“I’m confident enough to try it out on my own,” said Laboy. “I could probably remake it, just maybe not as well.”

With nearly 20,000 meals served daily underway, George Washington’s Supply Department continually works on improving the quality and diversity of the food served to the ship’s crew members.

George Washington returned to its forward-operating port of Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Nov. 22, after navigating more than 50,000 nautical miles across the Western Pacific to operate with more than a dozen different nations during its nine-week patrol. George Washington is the Navy’s only full-time forward-deployed aircraft carrier ensuring security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean.

Naval Today Staff , March 08, 2012; Image: navy