Zaru soba is a refreshing, cold soba noodle dish made with buckwheat noodles dipped in tsuyu, a savory dipping sauce. This quick and easy version will have you enjoying cold soba noodles in only 7 minutes without sacrificing any flavor! Add nori, green onions, sesame seeds, and grated daikon to make this the best zaru soba!
Zaru soba is a refreshing, flavorful cold soba noodle dish from Japan that's great for cooling off during the summertime! It's one of my favorite ways to enjoy buckwheat noodles, and this quick and easy version will have you enjoying these soba noodles in under 10 minutes with only three ingredients!
What is Zaru Soba?
Zaru soba (ざるそば), also known as cold soba noodles with dipping sauce, is made of chilled soba noodles individually portioned and dipped into ice-cold dipping sauce, known as mentsuyu or tsuyu. Optional toppings include chopped green onions, nori seaweed, grated daikon, and wasabi. The name 'zaru soba' comes from the traditional bamboo strainer or basket (called 'zaru') on which these Japanese cold noodles are served.
A signature presentation of zaru soba is to have individual mounds of soba noodles placed atop a draining mat. This prevents the soba noodles from sitting in water and getting soggy while making it easy to grab just the right amount of noodles.
How to Make Zaru Soba (Cold Soba Noodles)
- Boil the soba noodles according to the package directions and rinse very well under cold water. Remove as much starch as possible to avoid gummy, sticky noodles.
- Bundle the cold noodles into individual servings and place atop a slotted bamboo or plastic mat to drain excess water. Next place nori strips and green onions on top.
- Make the soba noodle dipping sauce by mixing the tsuyu base with ice-cold water. Taste and adjust with more water if needed.
- Add optional flavorings like grated daikon, chopped green onions, wasabi, and sesame seeds to the dipping sauce.
How to Serve Zaru Soba
The best way to serve zaru soba is to place optional toppings in individual bowls on the side to allow each person to add as much or as little as they'd like.
Optional toppings include chopped green onions, grated daikon radish, nori strips, sesame seeds, and wasabi.
Some say the proper way to enjoy zaru soba is to only dip the soba noodles halfway into the sauce to allow the subtle flavor of buckwheat to shine through while keeping the nori strips crisp and dry.
However, you can enjoy it any way you want, there are no hard rules!
7-Minute Zaru Soba (Cold Soba Noodles)
- 2 bundles soba noodles - See Note 1
Soba Dipping Sauce
- ⅓ cup tsuyu dipping sauce base - See Note 2
- 1 cup ice-cold water - or boiling water for a hot version
- nori strips - for the noodles
- chopped green onions, sesame seeds, grated daikon, wasabi - for the dipping sauce
Make Soba Dipping Sauce
- Soba dipping sauce: Mix the tsuyu base and ice-cold water together. Taste and adjust with more water if needed. Store in the fridge until ready to use.⅓ cup tsuyu dipping sauce base, 1 cup ice-cold water
Prepare Soba Noodles
- Boil the soba noodles according to your package directions. Rinse under ice-cold water to remove excess starch. This prevents the noodles from sticking together. Bundle into individual portions and place atop a soba noodle mat to drain excess water. Top with optional nori strips.2 bundles soba noodles, nori strips
- Portion out the tsuyu dipping sauce and add any toppings of your choice, including chopped green onions, sesame seeds, grated daikon, and wasabi. Dip the soba noodles into the tsuyu sauce and enjoy!chopped green onions, sesame seeds, grated daikon, wasabi
✎ Recipe Notes
- Types of soba noodles - Buy soba noodles in any Asian or Japanese grocery store. The texture and flavor will vary depending on the percentage of buckwheat flour. For a strong buckwheat flavor, look for one with a high percentage of buckwheat flour (some are made from 100% buckwheat flour). However, this can create a brittle, dry texture that breaks apart easily. For a softer, more flexible texture, choose one that has a mix of buckwheat flour and wheat flour.
- Tsuyu Dipping Sauce Base - This is a delicious concentrated base used for all kinds of Japanese noodle soups and dipping sauces. It's flavored with soy sauce, kelp, and mirin and saves you the time and hassle of making your own dashi base while delivering authentic flavor. It's very concentrated so be sure to dilute it with water first.
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.
Soba noodles are made with primarily buckwheat flour and have an earthy, nutty flavor. They are typically served in both hot and cold dishes and can also be made into noodle salads. They contain more fiber and protein than typical wheat noodles so make a good option for those looking for an alternative.