What Is Zaru Soba?
Zaru soba is a Japanese dish of chilled soba noodles. The dish is typically served with freshly grated wasabi, thinly sliced scallions, tsuyu (mentsuyu), and a dipping sauce made from soy sauce, dashi (made with both kelp and katsuobushi, or dried bonito flakes), mirin, and sake. Additional garnishes sometimes include grated daikon radish or grated ginger. A side of tempura often accompanies zaru soba.
The name zaru refers to the bamboo tray on which the drained noodles are typically served—a tradition carried on from the Edo period when the noodles were served over a bamboo strainer. You can find dried soba noodles in most grocery stores, but if you’re looking for more variety, search online or at an Asian specialty store.
4 Types of Soba Noodles
Soba noodles are long, thin noodle strands made from buckwheat flour and water that are light to dark brown with a nutty taste. In Japanese, soba translates to buckwheat. Soba noodles are classified mainly by the percentage of buckwheat flour or added flavors.
- Ju-wari noodles use 100 percent buckwheat flour and can be quite delicate due to the lack of gluten.
- Hachi-wari noodles use 80 percent buckwheat flour and 20 percent wheat flour, giving them more of a typical spaghetti-style texture.
- Cha soba noodles are flavored with green tea powder, which lends both an emerald hue and earthy flavor.
- Ume soba noodles are flavored with pickled, tangy ume plums and have a light pink color.