Zaru Soba is a Japanese summer recipe that features cold soba noodles dipped in a flavorful vegan kombu dipping sauce. This recipe only takes 10 minutes to make and is perfect for hot summer days when it’s too hot to cook!
What are Soba Noodles?
Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour, thus it’s very nutritious, high in protein and vitamin and is gluten-free. The noodles have a thin shape, slightly brown color with a nutty flavor. You can find it in most Asian supermarkets.
There are two main types of soba noodles:
- Ju-wari Soba is made of 100% buckwheat flour. This type is the healthiest type of soba noodles, yet it is fragile, has a rough texture that can be hard to work with.
- Hachi-wari Soba is made of 80% buckwheat flour and 20% wheat flour (not gluten-free). This type of soba noodles includes wheat flour, which makes the texture smoother and easier to chew.
I prefer Hachi-wari Soba because it’s easier to work with but what type of noodle to choose is entirely up to you. There is also a variant of soba noodles with green tea flavor (Cha Soba) that has a subtle green tea aroma that I really like.
The Dipping Sauce of Zaru Soba (Tsuyu)
The traditional dipping sauce, called Tsuyu in Japanese, is traditionally made with a kombu stock using kombu (kelp) and bonito flakes. To make this recipe completely vegan, I make a quick and easy-to-make dipping sauce using plant-based ingredients to recreate the deep savory taste:
- Dried shiitake mushroom
- Kelp/ Kombu
- Soy sauce
- Sugar (optional)
To make the dipping sauce, first, boil the dried shiitake mushroom and kelp in water to steep the flavors. Then turn off the heat, and add in the soy sauce, mirin and optional sugar. Pour the sauce into a jar and set them aside to cool down while we cook the soba noodles.
This dipping sauce is perfect for making ahead of time. I like to double the recipe and store it in the fridge for the week. Then when it’s lunch or dinner time, you just need to cook the soba noodles and pour over the sauce from the jar with some ice.
How to eat Zaru Soba?
We serve the Zaru Soba alongside the condiments (green onions, shredded nori sheets) and the dipping sauce (Tsuyu). The traditional Zaru Soba also uses grated daikon that is shaped into a ball and wasabi, but I did not include them in this recipe.
To enjoy the Zaru Soba, pick up a few strands of soba noodles with your chopsticks and dip them into the dipping sauce. Enjoy the refreshing flavors of the dish while slurping the noodles.
If you have tried my recipe, please let me know what you think by leaving me a review on this page or tagging me on Instagram @veggieanh. I would love to see your creations!
Zaru Soba (Cold Soba Noodles)
- 2 servings soba noodles (buckwheat noodles)
Dipping Sauce (Tsuyu)
- 250 ml water ~ 1 cup
- 1 piece kombu
- 2 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 50 ml soy sauce ~⅕ cup
- 50 ml mirin ~⅕ cup
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 stalks green onions thinly slice
- ½ nori sheet
- sesame seeds
- ice cubes as much ice as you want
Make the dipping sauce (Tsuyu)
- On a pot, add water, shiitake mushroom and kombu. Bring to a boil, then let it steep for 5-10 mins. The more you steep it, the more flavorful it become.
- Remove the kombu and mushroom from the broth, and turn off the heat. Add soy sauce, mirin and the optional sugar. Mix well then pour into a jar and set aside to chill.
Cook the Soba noodles
- Cook the Soba noodles according to package instructions.
- Drain and rinse under cold water multiple times until the water runs clear. This step helps prevent the noodles from overcooking and sticking to each other.
Assemble the Zaru Soba
- Cut the nori sheet into thin pieces. Thinly slice the green part of the green onions.
- Add the chopped green onions, shredded nori and sesame seeds on top of the soba noodles.
- In a bowl, pour in the sauce. Add the chopped green onions, ice to the dipping sauce.
- Enjoy the Zaru Soba by taking a strand of noodles with your chopsticks and dipping it in the sauce.