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5 from 8 votes

Easy Cold Soba Noodles (Zaru Soba)

An easy cold soba noodle (zaru soba) recipe made with buckwheat noodles and dipped in a genmaicha tea-infused tsuyu dipping sauce! Perfect dish for a hot sunny day!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main, Side
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 2 Servings
Calories: 476kcal
Author: Joyce | Pups with Chopsticks

Ingredients

Genmaicha Tsuyu Dipping Sauce

Toppings (Pick and choose the ones you like!)

Instructions

Make the Zaru Soba Dipping Sauce

  • Steep approximately 4 tablespoons of genmaicha tea in 3 cups of hot water for about 15 minutes. Ideally you would want to put this in some sort of tea ball or teabag. If you don’t have one you can strain out the tea leaves with a strainer once the tea has been steeped.
  • Once the tea is done, in a pitcher add in about a handful of bonito flakes (approx. 4 tbsp), pour in the tea and let it meld for about 10-15 minutes
  • Strain the bonito flakes out, then add in the soy sauce, mirin, and sake
  • Let the sauce chill in the fridge for about an hour.

Prepare the Toppings

  • Pick and choose the toppings you like. You don't need to use them all. If you want to keep it simple, green onions (scallions) and seaweed (nori) is more than enough for some good flavourings.
  • If you are using seaweed, I found it easiest to use scissors to snip them up into slivers
  • For ginger and daikon, use a fine grater to shave it into mush. Once grated, they have a lot of excess water – squeeze and drain the excess liquid out.

Cooking the Soba Noodles

  • In a pot, add water and set it on medium heat until the water boils. Do not add salt to the water – the dipping sauce is already very salty so we don't need the extra saltiness.
  • Follow the directions on the packaging to cook the soba noodles. I usually cook it for 1 minute less than it says and then taste it for doneness to make it al dente
  • Once the noodles are done, run them under cold water and rinse off all the starches. When the noodles are cool, add them into a ice bath for 1 minutes.
    It is not traditionally added but I also add a few drops of sesame oil to the ice bath because it adds a nice nutty flavour. A little goes a long long way, so less is more. Start by adding a few drops into the water. Use no more than ¼ teaspoon. The sesame oil also helps prevent the noodles from sticking to each other as well.

Serving the Noodles

  • Place the Cold Buckwheat Noodles, Tsuyu Sauce, and Toppings at the Table - Once you have finished cooking the noodles, and the noodles have had time to chill, place them on a small plate or basket and set it at the table. Place the toppings/garnishes and tsuyu dipping sauce at the table as well.
  • Prepare the Small Dipping Sauce Bowls - Using a small bowl, put in a few of your favorite garnishes (wasabi, toasted sesame seeds, grated daikon radish, green onions, grated ginger). Pour the tsuyu dipping sauce into the bowls.
  • Dip the Noodles in the Sauce and Slurp Up the Noodles! - Take a small amount of noodles and dip it in the sauce you just created! Then slurp up the noodles and enjoy!
  • Make a Soup with the Remaining Dipping Sauce - When the meal is done, you will most likely have a lot of dipping sauce left. Traditionally, zaru soba would use the leftover soba noodle water (sobayu) to water down the dipping sauce to make it into a soup! Instead of the soba water, I re-steeped the tea in a teapot and used that to water down the dipping sauce to make the soup instead.

Notes

  • When boiling the noodles, watch it like a hawk. They boil over very easily. When you start to see the bubbles/foam rise up, gently blow into it and it will reduce the foam in the pot and prevent it from overflowing the pot.
  • Sesame oil during the ice bath is optional. It is not traditionally added but I find a hint of nuttiness adds a nice flavor to the noodles. A little goes a long long way, so less is more. I would go with only adding a few drops in and use no more than ¼ teaspoon.
  • Just a warning, prepared wasabi is potent – a little goes a long long way, so use it sparingly as a topping.
  • If you have Hondashi granules, you can also use ¾ teaspoon to the tsuyu sauce to give it a smokier flavor. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 476kcal | Carbohydrates: 101g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 3g | Sodium: 4874mg | Sugar: 16g