Vegan zaru soba (Cold soba noodles)

When I was in Hong Kong one of my favourite dishes to enjoy on a hot summers day was zaru soba (cold soba noodles). Since moving to London I cook these noodles much less than I used to, but in the past decade the weather in the UK has begun to get hotter and hotter… and I crave these noodles more and more.

Soba are thin, brown noodles made from wheat and buckwheat. The sauce is made from a dashi base, with a bit of mirin and light soy sauce added too. Traditionally, the dashi sauce is made with kombu and dried bonito flakes, which is not meat-free! However, it is really simple to create a vegan version at home. Today, I am going to show you how!

K33Kitchen cold soba noodles

First, we need to create a quick dashi base. I suggest using the hot brew method as it gives the dashi a slightly stronger flavour. However, if you prefer a mild flavour you can also use the cold brew method… check out the recipe here for more detail and tips on making dashi.

For an even stronger flavour I’ve changed the ratio slightly from regular 100:1:1 to 100:2:2, which means you’ll need 200ml of water, 4g of kombu and 4g of shiitake mushrooms.

K33Kitchen cold soba noodles

Cut the kombu into strips approximately 4-5cm long as it helps to release the flavour better.

k33kitchen vegan dashi

Heat 200ml of water in a medium-sized saucepan on high heat until it starts to boil. Add in the kombu and reduce to a  medium-low heat. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes. Drop in the shiitake mushrooms and cook for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat but keep the lid on and let the mixture rest for 10 minutes.

K33Kitchen cold soba noodles

While you wait for the broth get the other ingredients ready.

You’ll need 2 serves of soba noodles (I used 3 because King and I both love this dish sooooo much and we have big stomachs 😋)

K33Kitchen cold soba noodles

2 spring onions, finely chopped.

K33Kitchen cold soba noodles

Get a quarter of a nori sheet and split it into 4 smaller pieces, pile them up together and cut them into 2mm thin strips.

K33Kitchen cold soba noodlesK33Kitchen cold soba noodles

You’ll need light soy sauce for this – you can use gluten-free if you are gluten intolerant. I tried coconut aminos replacement but found it far too sweet for my liking and it didn’t work in this dish.

K33Kitchen cold soba noodles

Boil the noodles in water, following the cooking time on the packaging (usually 6-8 minutes).

K33Kitchen cold soba noodles

Once cooked, rinse the noodles with ice-cold water and chill until they are completely cold. You may want to add some ice to the water during the hotter months but this really isn’t essential, especially if you live in somewhere that’s not too hot like the UK. 😂

Drain the noodles and set them aside.

K33Kitchen cold soba noodles

Your dashi broth should now be ready and you’ll need to strain it through a cheesecloth or fine mesh.

Before straining, I always squeeze the shiitake mushrooms to get out all the goodness. If you are using the hot brew method make sure you wear gloves before you do this as they’ll be pretty hot.

Once you’ve strained the dashi, don’t throw away the leftover kombu or mushrooms. I usually freeze them to use in other dishes like kombu tsukudani or shiitake tsukudani – a small side dish that has been simmered in soy sauce and mirin to make a flavourful accompaniment to plain rice.

K33Kitchen cold soba noodles

Since this is a cold dish, you’ll need to cool down the sauce before serving. Place the dashi inside a bowl of ice-cold water to help speed this up.

K33Kitchen cold soba noodles

Divide the noodles equally between two plates and sprinkle the sliced spring onion, nori strips, and sesame seeds on top.

Combine 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tsp mirin, and 4 tbsp chilled dashi in a small mixing bowl, stir well. Then divide the sauce into two individual little bowls to serve alongside the noodles.

K33Kitchen cold soba noodles

When you eat soba noodles, you pick a bite-size mouthful and then dip it in the sauce and eat it little by little… It’s super light and a great refreshing meal that’s perfect for a hot summer’s lunch!

Let me know if you try out this recipe. You can leave a comment below, or take a picture, tag it with #k33_kitchen and share it on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, hope you enjoy my recipes!

K33Kitchen cold soba noodles

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Difficulty: Easy

Serves: 2

Prep.: 30 mins | Cook: 10 mins

Ingredients:

Sauce

  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce*
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 200ml water
  • 4g kombu (dried kelp), cut into strips, 4-5cm in length
  • 4g dried shittake mushrooms

Noodles

  • 2 serves of dried soba noodles (about 100g each serve)**
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 nori seaweed sheet, cut into a thin strip
  • Pinch of sesame seeds
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Instructions:
  1. Heat 200ml of water in a medium-sized saucepan on high heat until it starts to boil. Add in the kombu and reduce to a  medium-low heat. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes. Drop in the shiitake mushrooms and cook for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat but keep the lid on and let the mixture rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, boil the noodles in water, following the cooking time on the packaging (usually 6-8 minutes).
  3. Rinse the noodles with ice-cold water and chill until they are completely cold. Drain the noodles and set aside.
  4. Once the dashi broth is ready, strain it through cheesecloth or fine mesh. Place the dashi container inside a bowl of ice-cold water to help it cool down.
  5. Divide the noodles equally between two plates and sprinkle the sliced spring onion, nori strips, and sesame seeds on top.
  6. Combine 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tsp mirin, and 4 tbsp chilled dashi in a small mixing bowl, stir well. Then divide the sauce into two individual little bowls to serve alongside the noodles.
  7. Dip your noodles in the sauce and enjoy!

* Most soba noodles are mixed buckwheat and wheat flour, so they are not gluten-free but there are also plenty of brands that make 100% buckwheat soba as well, so please do check the packaging.

** Regular soy sauce is made with fermented wheat. Use gluten-free soy sauce if you are gluten intolerant.

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