Soba is the Japanese name for buckwheat and it also means the noodles made from buckwheat flour. I've seen all kinds of creative soba noodle recipes in the U.S., but in Japan soba noodles are served either simply chilled with a dipping sauce or in hot broth as a noodle soup, similar to how we prepare Japanese udon noodle soup.
Cold soba noodles are typically served in zaru, which means bamboo basket in Japanese. We serve noodles with some toppings (green onions and wasabi, sometimes grated daikon) and a dipping sauce called mentsuyu.
Click here to see 7 Great Chilled Noodle Recipes for Summer.
For the dipping sauce
- 3 Cups water
- One 1/3-ounce dashi packet
- 1/4 Cup mirin
- 1/4 Cup soy sauce
- Pinch of salt
For the noodles
- 14 Ounces dried soba
- 2 scallions, green and white parts, chopped finely
- Wasabi paste, for serving
- Finely shredded nori sheets, for serving
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Hey everyone! I'm Cody. Great to see you enjoying my recipes and food travel posts. Hope you are enjoying your time here, and if you want to learn more about me click my pic and it'll shoot you right over to the About page.
Zaru Soba Chilled Noodles
Cool down the Japanese way with this zaru soba chilled noodles recipe. Zaru soba is a delicious summer noodle dish, made from chilled buckwheat noodles and served with a light dipping soup called tsuyu. Simple, light, and easy to make, this immensely popular Japanese dish is best enjoyed during the hottest of summer days.
• soba noodles
• nori seaweed
• spring onion
How To Prepare
We need to cook our noodles first, so grab a bunch of soba and allow them to cook in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. There is no need to add salt to the water before boiling.
While the noodles are cooking we can start preparing the dipping soup. You can of course make the soup yourself by mixing soy sauce, mirin, dashi stock and a little sugar with water, or you can simply buy a pre-made tsuyu (Some tsuyu brands need to be mixed with water before serving).
Once you have finished preparing the dipping soup, check the soba are of a suitable consistency and then drain the noodles in a colander with another saucepan underneath to catch the discarded water. Do not throw away this drained water as we are going to use it again later.
It is important to thoroughly wash the soba at this stage to get rid of any excess starch. Rinse the noodles under a cold running tap and swish them around until the water runs clear.
Grab a traditional zaru bamboo tray and carefully arrange the soba on it. Then shred some nori seaweed and sprinkle on top of the soba noodles before serving. Add a small amount of wasabi and some finely sliced spring onions to your soup and dip the noodles in it briefly before eating.
Remember the drained water we were saving for later? As the soba noodles were cooked in this water it still contains many of the nutrients from the soba. Mix some of this water with the remainder of your dipping soup and drink it as a perfect finish to this tasty dish.
Tips and Information
• There are a huge variety of different types of soba available, all with slight differences to the taste or texture.
- Hachi-wari 80% Soba Noodles
Hachi-wari means 80% in Japanese. These are a very common type of soba made from 80% buckwheat and 20% wheat flour.
- Jyu-wari 100% Soba Noodles
These soba are made from 100% buckwheat so they have a delicious, slightly nutty flavour.
- Soba Noodles with Yam
These noodles have a small amount of yama-imo yam added which makes them a healthier option.
- Green Tea Soba Noodles
A small amount of green tea powder is added to these soba to give them a subtle green tea taste and green colour
- Ume Plum Soba Noodles
Similar to green tea noodles, but these soba are flavoured with traditional Japanese ume plum and have a pink colour.
• The amount of time you cook the soba depends on the type of soba you purchase. You can find the number of minutes you need to cook them for on each pack. The Japanese character for minutes is 分 so look out for that one.
Zaru Soba | Cold Summer Noodles | COLD SOBA NOODLES -ざるそば | Japanese dipping noodles
This dish is really easy to prepare! Make it once and eat it all summer long in less than 10 minutes!.
Tsuyu (dipping sauce) 00:39.
Storing the tsuu 1:40.
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Makes 3 cups.
2.5 cups | 590ml Dashi.
⅔ cup | 158ml soy sauce.
⅔ cup | 158ml mirin.
⅓ cup | 3-5g Bonito flakes.
Dried Soba noodles.
Condiments (Serves 2
2 green onions, chopped.
½ sheet Nori seaweed.
Tsukemono (Japanese pickles).
1 Tbs Ikura.
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Tenzaru Soba (Tempura With Chilled Buckwheat Noodles)
Tenzaru soba is a classic Japanese summer dish that is equally as popular as zaru soba or udon and readily available on restaurant menus. It is a dish that combines two classic Japanese favorites: tempura seafood and vegetables, and zaru style cold noodles served on a bamboo dish.
As far as presentation is concerned, the tempura is always served separately from the cold soba noodles on different plates. A savory soy sauce based dipping sauce is served in a cup large enough to dip both noodles and tempura, along with a small plate of sliced green onions, wasabi (Japanese horseradish), and grated daikon (Japanese daikon radish).
When prepared as a stand-alone appetizer or meal, tempura is served with either salt or a side of tempura sauce. However, when tempura is served in a dish of tenzaru soba, the tempura is dipped in mentsuyu, or a dipping sauce (tsuyu) meant for noodles (men), and not in tempura sauce. Side by side, tempura sauce and the dipping sauce for noodles appear almost identical, as both are brown in color and thin liquids. Their flavor profiles, however, are different to the discriminating palate.
To prepare tenzaru at home, there are a few tips and shortcuts I recommend, especially if you’re interested in preparing a wonderful Japanese dish with ease, or if you are limited on time. We encourage you to spend as little or as much time as you desire in preparing this dish.
How To Make it?
At the soba noodle speciality shops in Japan, you can eat soba noodles that are freshly made and boiled, but it is difficult to have such luxury. Especially since the majority of my readers are living outside of Japan. Don&rsquot despair, there is a way to bring out the delicious taste of fresh Soba noodles with dried noodles. The difference between freshly made and dried is the amount of moisture. So before you cook it, soak the dried noodles in water and let the noodles absorb the moisture. Read more about Soba noodles that I explained in detail in the soba noodles post here.
INGREDIENTS FOR ZARU SOBA (COLD SOBA NOODLES)
For this zaru soba recipe, you can find the soba noodles (aka buckwheat noodles), mirin and bonito flakes at an Asian grocery store or specialty grocery store.
Genmaicha is also known as roasted brown rice green tea and can be found at your local Asian grocery store as well however tea shops are getting quite popular nowadays so you may be able to find them at tea shops as well.
I used prepared wasabi since this was what I had on hand, and it makes this recipe quick and simple - however if you can get powdered wasabi or fresh wasabi those work as well. Just a warning, prepared wasabi is POTENT - a little goes a long long way.
Daikon radish and dried seaweed (nori) sheets can usually be found at your local grocery store or Asian supermarket.
Heat 2 quarts water to a rolling boil in large pot. Add Soba Noodles, and stir. Return to a boil, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until tender.
Strain and rinse noodles under cold running water. Fill large bowl with water and ice, and chill noodles for a few minutes. Strain and set aside.
Combine dashi, soy sauce, mirin and sugar in bowl, and mix well. Divide among four small dipping bowls.
Stir together Genuine Wasabi Powder and water until thick paste forms.
Divide noodles among four plates, and top with shredded nori. Serve with dipping sauce and small bowls of green onions and wasabi paste on the side.
Before I get to this post and recipe, I just wanted to say thank you so much for all of the emails, support, comments, well wishes and prayers for my mother (who recently had a kidney transplant kidney donated from my sister, Grace). The support, emails and comments have been so overwhelming, thoughtful, kind and sweet and have touched me so much. It really means so much to receive support like this from many of you whom I have never met, who do not even know my mother- yet we are surrounded and blanketed by this overwhelming kindness. It’s been so touching and truly truly means so much. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
I was first introduced to Zaru Soba when my dad opened his first Japanese restaurant. I loved it. The whole experience. The beautiful presentation. The bamboo mat that the noodles came out on. Grabbing my chopsticks and dipping the noodles into the sauce and then into my mouth. Delicious!
Zaru Soba is a very popular Japanese buckwheat noodle dish. I love that it’s so light, tasty and good for you! If you’ve never tried Zaru Soba, get out to one of your favorite Japanese restaurants and give it a try. . or try making this at home. We love all kinds of Asian noodles and buckwheat noodles are definitely a favorite. And now that I know this is so easy, I will definitely be making this more often and might have to actually invest in a bamboo mat tray!
The school year is starting soon. I can’t believe it. So, now we’re all about quick and easy and keeping it real for week night dinners (or lunch). I was in Dallas and asked my dad to teach me how to make the Zaru Soba dipping sauce. . . getting ready to write down a long list of ingredients. . And he pulls out this bottle.
Now let me reiterate that this is NOT what Japanese people use in restaurants when you order Zaru Soba. But this is what they sell now at Asian Markets for people- just like you and me- who want to enjoy Zaru Soba at home.
So, literally all you have to do is boil the noodles and prep your toppings and you are done! You don’t have to do anything to the sauce. It’s made and ready to go. Again, with the noodles, I am recommending a frozen brand because according to my parents, “It just tastes better.”
And for the toppings we just used what we had in the house, so we topped our Zaru Soba with cucumbers, nori (seaweed) and pureed white radish. Adds a little kick mixed with some wasabi and tastes great.
So, if you were intimidated by Japanese food before- specifically Zaru Soba, I hope this inspires you to get out to your local Asian Market and explore! I hope you enjoy!
I’m a big fan of soup noodles like ramen and pho, but during the summer months it’s a bit too hot for these dishes. That’s why I wanted to make a summer friendly noodle dish. This Zaru Soba packs a ton of flavor, without cranking up the heat.
This dish is sometimes referred to as “Dipping Noodles”, for exactly the reason you think. The noodles and sauce are served separately. When you’re ready to eat, you dip the noodles into the sauce and enjoy!
You want the noodles to be coated in the sauce, but not soaked or drenched. The sauce is super flavorful and can be overpowering.
Soba is a traditional Japanese noodle that is made of buckwheat. However, be careful when you are buying these noodles because some manufacturers will use a mix of buckwheat and wheat. The traditional soba should be 100% buckwheat and gluten free.
Keep your sauce on your soba, not the floor,
Your favorite alternative chefs, K & T