Zaru Soba (cold soba with dipping sauce) has been a traditional fast food since Edo Period (1,603 – 1868) in Japan. From kids to elders, people in any social class can enjoy the fresh and smooth soba by quickly dipping in a sauce. While it’s a very popular quick dish for lunch, you can also find soba restaurants or posh izakaya establishments that serve soba as a final course after various small dishes to savor. I remember my late father ate soba for lunch 3 – 4 times a week because it was on of his very favorite foods. This version, instead of a typical soy sauce and mirin based sauce, I made it with an extra amount of dashi with a generous addition of brown rice black vinegar. The result is a very refreshing umami-packed dipping sauce, which you can even drink up (and it’s so good for you because of its high vinegar content).
Vegan optionUse Kombu & Shiitake Mushroom Dashi or your choice of vegan dashi (stock) to make the dipping sauce.
- 2 cups (480 ml) kombu and bonito dashi or your choice of dashi
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) soy sauce
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) Japanese black vinegar
- 2 tablespoons raw brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon black sesame oil
- 14 oz (400 g) dry soba noodles
Suggested Condiments (You can use all or choose some of them from below)
- Roasted sesame seeds (either golden or black)
- Thinly-sliced green onions
- Thinly-sliced shiso
- Grated daikon radish
- Shredded nori seaweed
- Grated ginger
- To make the dipping sauce, combine the dashi, soy sauce, black vinegar and sugar in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, and turn off the heat immediately. Let it cool down completely and add the sesame oil. Chill in refrigerator.
- Cook the soba noodles according to the package’s cooking instructions. Rinse under cold running water and drain well. Transfer to a bamboo strainer(s) or a plate(s).
- Pour the sauce into a serving cup or bowl. To enjoy, take a small amount of the soba at a time and dip in the sauce (with or without condiments) and eat immediately.
In the summertime, I like to serve with a wide variety of ingredients, including summer treats, like sliced cherry tomatoes and raw onion.