Serving Size: 1 portion Prep Time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Zaru soba is Japanese chilled noodles served with a cold broth called tsuyu on a bamboo tray. It is easy to prepare and perfect to have on a hot summer’s day.
Zaru soba is an excellent alternative to pasta and makes for a filling and a very nutritious meal. It is also gluten-free if you use the ju-wari variety (info below).
Soba, or buckwheat noodles, is one of many kinds of Japanese noodles. It is made by grinding the buckwheat grain and mixing it with water to form a dough, which is then cut with a long knife into thin noodles.
A generous portion for one person uses about 100 grams of dried soba (app. 260 grams once cooked), which contains about 340 kcal, 2 grams of fat and zero cholesterol.
Soba, in its pure form, is gluten-free and is marketed as ju-wari soba.
There is also a less expensive variety, called ni-hachi soba, which is made from 80% soba and 20% wheat and therefore not technically gluten-free.
- Dry soba noodles – 100 grams
- Tsuyu dipping sauce. Your local Japanese store probably has this (typically made of soy sauce, bonito or kombu or shiitake dashi, and mirin). If not, you can make an alternative dipping sauce by mixing a bit of soy sauce, vinegar or lemon juice, olive oil with honey or sugar to taste. Don’t be afraid to experiment! You are effectively making a salad dressing of sorts.
- Condiments for the dipping sauce. These can include
- A dash of wasabi
- Chopped nori seaweed (the standard seaweed sheets used for wrapping sushi)
- Chopped green onions, or grated daikon radish
- You can get creative. Add anything you like. Condiments you add to tsuyu are called yakumi, and professional chefs have their signature recipes. However, balance is an important consideration. You do not want to overwhelm the clean, delicate flavor of your soba!
How to Prepare
- Cook the soba in boiling water for about 3-5 minutes (depending on thickness). Use PLENTY of water (about ten times the volume of soba). Cook like al dente pasta (enough so there is no hard center). DO NOT add salt to the water.
- Drain the soba into a colander. Rinse thoroughly with cold running water. The colder the water, the better (you can add ice cubes to the soba in the colander as you rinse).
- Serve the soba, preferably on a bamboo tray, sprinkled with nori seaweed.
- Serve the dipping sauce in a small cup, soup bowl, or even a tumbler. Fill about halfway.
How to Eat
- Add your condiments (wasabi, green onions, grated daikon, ..) to the dipping sauce, and mix with your chopsticks.
- Pick up the soba (and a bit of seaweed) with your chopsticks. Dip (whirl) in the sauce briefly and eat. Don’t leave the soba to soak in the sauce or add too many condiments! A Note About Etiquette: Contrary to Western etiquette, slurping the noodles in your mouth is acceptable and considered as proper table manner and evidence of enjoying your meal! Read more here.
- Zaru soba is a flexible, marvelous dish. You do not have to dip it in a dipping sauce. Instead, make any sauce you wish, and pour it over your zaru soba like you are having a great salad.