Sunday, March 9, 2008

Noods, cukes, and nori

I probably eat cold buckwheat noodles at least once a week. Since I first learned how to prepare them from my friend SO a year or two ago, they've become a standard meal, one that I can have ready for consumption in less than fifteen minutes. SO's version involves only soba noodles, chopped scallions, wasabi, and soba sauce, but I've added a few more ingredients over time, such as roasted nori and grated cucumber. The chewy noodles, mingled with shreds of cucumber and nori and flavored with the cold, sweet, ocean-edged broth, make a perfectly refreshing and satisfying repast.

The preparation is simple: 1) Boil the soba for six minutes; rinse with cold water and then drain. 2) Pour about half a cup of dipping sauce into a small bowl; mix in about a teaspoon of wasabi (or more/less depending on your preference). 3) Top noodles with grated cucumber, scallions, and roasted nori. To eat, pour the soba sauce over the noodles, or dip each mouthful as you go. If you reserve the water you've boiled the noodles in, you can pour some into the remaining sauce to create a flavorful hot soup, a perfect ending to the meal.

Dried noodles, dipping sauce, wasabi, and roasted nori can be kept on hand in the pantry, and around my way scallions and cucumbers are easy to obtain at a moment's notice. I usually keep containers of chopped scallion, grated cucumber, and shredded nori around, so when I feel like eating this dish all that really needs to be done is to boil the noodles. It's perfect for when I come home from work starving and want to eat something tasty, quick.
IMG_1917.JPG IMG_1908.JPGIMG_1920.JPG IMG_1910.JPG
All you need, minus the scallions.

This dish is flexible, too. The noodles pictured at the top are actually Korean buckwheat noodles, the kind typically used for naengmyeon. I like these because they are extremely chewy. I've also used black rice noodles, arrowroot noodles, and a few brands of Chinese buckwheat noodles, all of which yield the same resilient, bouncy texture (Japanese soba is slightly less chewy, and with a bit of grit). The only difference with using these other noodles is that the cooking time is much shorter, about two or three minutes instead of six. As long as you cook each type properly, almost any kind of thin noodle will work.

I used to make this dish heavy on the noodles, but now I add a lot of the grated cucumber instead to bulk it up without the extra calories. For those interested, here's the math: one bundle soba (350), five ounces grated cucumber (20), four ounces dipping sauce (40), one tablespoon scallions (2), one teaspoon wasabi (15), roasted nori (about 20). About 450 calories and 3 grams of fat, for a large, very filling bowl of refreshing noodle goodness.


  1. Heck yes! I love soba noodles, and especially any kind of cold salad with them. Here's my favorite, with a tahini based dressing.

  2. Haha I like it when you put the calories count there too!

  3. I'm a recent soba convert! I can have it many ways. Your way is simple and I like it too!

  4. I usually mix the soba sauce with some cold water and dump the noodles in them.

    I eat it with wasabi, scallion and bonito flakes.

    I do the same for dried udon and somen. Yum!

  5. whats the dipping sauce? does it come with the soba?

  6. tl, here's the one I've been using, although there are lots of different brands.

    The bottle will say "tsuyu" or "soup base"; when you're checking out bottles look for wording that says "for soba, udon, etc." There are two types, a concentrate that needs to be diluted with water before serving, or tsuyu "straight," which can be used as is, so just check which one you're getting. The one in the picture is a concentrated one.

  7. yum!!!!!!! it's sort of ridiculous.... i've never prepared my own soba dish. this has inspired me. i'm on it today. thanks for sharing :)

  8. Hmm...I must try all the other buckwheat noodles you mentioned. I have bought Japanese soba a few times but I would like a chewier option.

  9. Oh yum. I LOVE soba noodles. Practically lived off of them when I lived in Japan. Love cold noodles in the summer.