Soba Noodles with Dip and Condiments
Click to Enlarge

Zaru Soba - Cold Noodles

20 min  
This is a very popular dish in Japan, particularly in the summer. They are traditionally served in a small basket (Zaru). We provide no amounts, because they are all entirely arbitrary. Some recipes do recommend about 100 grams (3-1/2 ounces) dried noodles per person. These noodles are very different from Pasta, so are handled differently.

Soba Noodles (1)  
Mentsuyu dip (2)  

Scallions, sliced
Nori, shredded
Wasabi, dollop
Daikon, grated
Shiso leaves
Sesame Seeds, toasted
Ginger, grated
Myouga, shredded
Yuzu Peel, grated
Shichimi Togarashi
Make   -   (20 min +15 min sauce, make ahead)
  1. Cut Condiments as desired. Scallions are pretty much mandatory, then one or two others.
  2. Bring plenty of Water to a boil. The Japanese don't usually salt the water because the dip will be salty.
  3. Hold the bundle of Soba vertically over the pot and have the noodles drop into the pot a few at a time to assure they don't stick together. Stir well for a minute or so, bringing back to a boil, then turn down to a slow simmer and cover.
  4. Simmer Soba until cooked evenly all the way through (not al-dente). The noodles should be softened, but still strong enough to wash, and not at all mushy.
  5. Drain Soba. Return to the pot and fill with Cold Water. Tumble them around with your hands to wash them well. Change the water and wash some more. Drain well.
  6. Serve with Dip and Condiments (yakumi) on the side (see Note-3 and Note-4). These noodles are often accompanied with chilled Tofu dice or Tempura, both of which can use the same dip.
  1. Soba Noodles:   These are noodles made with buckwheat flour. Many "health conscious" recipes presume they are "gluten free", but they almost always contain some wheat flour so there is enough gluten to hold them together. Pure buckwheat Soba is made, but rare, and probably more difficult to handle. In Japan, a common mix is 3-7, 30% wheat, 70% buckwheat - but you'll not find that in the Asian markets around here - I've seen as little as 3% buckwheat, but most don't say, just listing buckwheat as the second ingredient. A well known Japanese Soba enthusiast here in Los Angeles makes hers about 20% wheat, 80% buckwheat. Note that some brands include "Yam" (konnyaku powder) which makes the noodles sturdier and easier to handle.
  2. Mentsuyu:   This is the standard Japanese noodle dip / broth, very easy to make, and will last for a couple weeks in the fridge. It is finished in various concentrations. For dip, I like 1/2 Dashi, 1/2 Kaeshi. See our Mentsuyu & Kaeshi recipe.
  3. Eating:   You eat these noodles by picking up a small bunch with chopsticks, dip briefly into the sauce (some recipes saying 2/3 of the way). I have seen photos on the Internet of a cylinder of noodles wrapped neatly and tightly around a pair of chopsticks. This is essentially impossible to do at the table and had to be carefully constructed for the photo. What I do is pick up some noodles with chopsticks, lower them into the dip, then let go. I immediately pick them up again, across the dip bowl. This brings them up in a less stringy bunch, and brings more condiment with the noodles. Whatever method, don't leave the noodles in the sauce for more than a couple seconds.
  4. Condiments:   Most recipes have you add condiments to the dip, though some hold nori aside and sprinkle it over the noodles. Don't overload the dip with condiments, add a bit more when needed. In Japan, some people capture some of the water drained from the Soba (sobayu). After the noodles are eaten, they add some to the remaining dip and drink it as soup.
  5. Shichimi Togarashi:   OK, you want to know what this is. It's a table condiment - red chili flake mixed with ground yuzu peel, szechuan peppercorns, nori (seaweed), toasted white and black sesame seeds and toasted poppy seeds - or some other stuff. Often called "7 flavor pepper".
  6. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
jag_zarsob1* 160216 inet var   -
©Andrew Grygus - - Linking to and non-commercial use of this page is permitted.