Citizens, as we continue onwards through the TFD “Week of Pasta”, know with certainty that not all pasta is even made from wheat flour! For example, Japanese Soba noodles are made mostly from buckwheat! One of my favorite Zen-simple noodle dishes is cold soba noodles, known as Zaru Soba.
Soba is the Japanese name for buckwheat and it also means the noodles made from buckwheat flour. In Japan, soba noodles are served either simply chilled with a dipping sauce or in hot broth as a noodle soup.
Cold soba noodles are typically served in zaru, which means bamboo basket in Japanese. The chilled noodles are served with toppings of green onions, grated daikon radish and wasabi plus a dipping sauce called Mentsuyu.
Mentsuyu ( めんつゆ ) is a Japanese soup base used in soba and udon noodle dishes. It’s made from mirin, sugar and soy sauce – the combination of which is called ‘kaeshi’, combined with konbu seaweed and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), which is the base for dashi, the Japanese soup “stock”.
There are two types of mentsuyu: kaketsuyu, which is poured hot over boiled noodles to make noodle soup, and tsuketsuyu which literally means “dipping soup” for chilled noodles. For this Zaru soba recipe, we are making tsuketsuyu.
Mentsuyu brings complex umami flavor to both soup and noodle dishes. As well as serving mentsuyu alongside piles of cold noodles, this base can also be diluted with hot water for a seasoned soup broth to enjoy with hot noodles.
Citizens, enjoy your own moment of Zen satori (enlightenment) – try these delicious noodles today! My recipe offers no shortcuts, only the finest in flavors – the dipping sauce involves a bit of work, but it makes more then you need and keeps in the fridge. 🙂
I would suggest sampling this with another recipe from Japan’s past – miso-aged tofu!
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