Zaru Soba/Cold Soba Noodles (ざるそば)

In Japan, soba noodles are a staple summer dish because they are both light & refreshing. Soba noodles are made out of buckwheat and they can be found in most grocery stores. There are different types of buckwheat noodles depending on the ratio of buckwheat flour in the noodles. Ju-wari Soba (十割そば) are noodles made from 100% buckwheat and have a dry & rough texture which makes them brittle & more prone to breaking. Hachi-wari Soba (八割そば) are made from 80% buckwheat and have a smoother chewier texture but less buckwheat flavor & aroma compared to ju-wari. The meaning of Zaru in Japanese is "strainer". The noodles are called "Zaru Soba" since they are served on a bamboo strainer like the one pictured below. They are also served cold then dipped in a refreshing umami soy sauce-based dipping sauce called Tsuyu (つゆ). Tsuyu can be made at home or found in an Asian grocery store. Keeping this in your fridge is easier & more convenient than making it from scratch. To make a well-balanced meal, these noodles are often served with tempura (Tenzaru 天ざる). This dish is so simple and easy to make, you can enjoy it in as little as 10 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz dried soba noodles

  • mentsuyu/tsuyu dipping sauce

  • iced water

Mentsuyu (dipping sauce concentrate):

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce

  • 1/2 cup mirin

  • 1 cup katsuobushi

  • 1/4 cup sake

  • 1x1" Kombu (dried kelp)

Garnish (optional):

  • Shredded nori (dried seaweed)

  • Chopped green onions

  • wasabi

Instructions:

To make the dipping sauce:

  1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat add sake

  2. Add soy sauce and mirin

  3. Add kombu & bonito flakes

  4. Bring the sauce to a boil then let simmer for 5 minutes

To make the Soba noodles:

  1. Cook the soba noodles according to the package directions but reserve 1 1/2 cup of soba water

  2. When noodles are done boiling, drain them in a sieve and rinse with cold water to get rid of the starch

  3. Place noodles in an ice bath and let sit until cool

Assemble:

  1. Combine 6 tablespoons of dipping sauce concentrate with 1/2 cup of cold water. The ratio of tsuyu to water is 1:3 per person.

  2. Place wasabi and green onions on a plate and serve with soba noodles on a bamboo sieve (if you have it). Put dipping sauce in a small bowl and when ready dip the noodles into the tsuyu quickly then enjoy with a Japanese beer!

Chef's notes:

  • The tsuyu will last up to a month in the fridge

  • Do not add salt to the water when boiling the soba noodles

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