Zaru soba was one of the meals I ate pretty consistently back when I went abroad to study in Japan almost four years ago now. Why? It was typically very cheap (400 yen for a serving at a noodle shop, which is about $4), it was filling, and it allowed me to stay cool (as it was incredibly hot out, I was there during August – December). Plus, you were encouraged to slurp at your noodles, which was very fun, especially with the dipping sauce.
The recipe I’m using for this comes from the cookbook Japanese Soul Cookng, and overall, it’s incredibly thorough. You can make your own soba noodles if you choose, but honestly, it’s saner if you go with premade, unless you have at minimum a whole day to devote to the process of making the noodles. Cooking the soba itself is very easy; the dipping sauce is honestly the only part where it gets real interesting, and even then, it’s not that difficult. Perfect meal for a hot summer day.
Lasts appx 6 lunches as a main course
- one package soba (usually contains 3 servings)
- one serving dashi (use the recipe and instructions in the attached link)
- .5 c soy sauce
- .125 (or 1/8) c mirin
- 2 t sugar
- 2 T mirin
- nori, sliced thin (I didn’t have this on hand, but will be adding it)
To cook your soba, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add your package of soba (be sure to remove the little plastic bundling the noodles together). Swirl the noodles with chopsticks as seen in picture one to separate the noodles, and keep them so as they cook. Cook for approximately 4 minutes (or check your package’s instructions, but odds are they’ll be similar). You’ll know when your noodles are done when you taste them and they’re cooked through (do so after running them after cold water). Once ready, strain them in a colander, and then put the colander in a large bowl, and run cold water over them, filling the bowl (and the colander), and stir your noodles, as seen in picture 2. This helps them cool down and not get overcooked or mushy. Cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, drain and put into a container, to use whenever you may want.
To make kaeshi, the soba dipping sauce flavoring base, combine the .5 c soy sauce, 1/8th cup mirin, and 2 t sugar in a pot, and bring them to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add your dashi and mirin to your kaeshi, and bring back to a boil to make the dipping sauce. Once boiling, remove from heat and allow to come down to room temperature. Then, put in a smaller container and in the fridge for at minimum one hour, to allow the flavors to combine. The longer you let the dipping sauce sit in the fridge, the more the flavors will come out.
To eat, add the nori to the noodles, and then use your chopsticks to dip into the dipping sauce, as demonstrated by me and my Darth Maul chopsticks in the final picture! Why yes, I am a massive dork. Be sure to have a paper towel on hand, though, it can get messy.