Summer is approaching and cold noodles are a casual Japanese meal to eat with the scorching heat. We are so blessed to have so many noodles in Japan that we could choose from to eat as a cold dish. Once you slurp in the cold icy noodles down your throat, you will be able to cool down in an instant and refresh yourself! Check this cold noodle recipe that uses”soba”, which is another unique Japanese noodle you should encounter when visiting.

What is a “Soba”?

Soba is a type of noodle, made from soba grains. It is about the same thickness as regular spaghetti, and it comes in grayish or light brown color. There are small black spots on the soba noodles which are called “hoshi” (=stars) and they are the remainders of soba seeds. Soba is very unique due to its smoky fragrance, and I love it that it’s great in both hot & cold soup. In the summer, most soba recipes are cold, and there are roughly 2 ways to eat it: 1) Kake soba (or Bukkake soba) which means the soup is poured on top, or 2) Tsuke soba, which means you dip the soba into the soup. Today, we are going to show a kake soba recipe.

What vegetables go well with Soba?

Usually, soba is eaten with vegetables such as spring onions (or scallions) and myoga, which are both crispy crunchy vegetables eaten when raw. They have a very distinct fragrance to it, which adds a punch to the overall simple soba taste. These side vegetables are called “yakumi” (薬味) in Japanese. Also a popular topping/ingredients would be the shiso leaves, wasabi, and ginger (tube type is very convenient). These are what I call standard ingredients to help embellish your soba.

If you’re a big fan of natto, which are fermented beans, it is highly recommended for a topping for kake soba. The sticky natto beans mix well with the soba, and it is just so good. Notice that the natto sauce also is similar to mentsuyu sauce, which is just a perfect match together.

What kind of seasonal summer vegetables are recommended in Japan?

Aside from the standard yakumi vegetables, what are some seasonal veggies that go well with the cold summer soba recipes? First, the tomatoes. They are so sweet and juicy, they’re so refreshing to eat with the salty mentsuyu taste. The bright red will certainly be a great decoration, and it is also healthy by helping you cool down on a hot scorching day. Next, the okra just does the job. With it’s sticky seeds that come out of the inside, they make it so tasty almost making the soba seem a little creamy. Also, the eggplants & shishito peppers (bottom right in the picture above) are unique summer vegetables. Once you boil/microwave the eggplant, it will become softer and juicier, and it soaks up the mentsuyu sauce well. The shishito peppers are crisp and crunchy, giving a little bitterness to the salty-sweet soba. Finally, the lemon slices will definitely enhance your soba by adding a tint of vitamin color to the overall dish. There are so many Japanese summer vegetables great for soba! Try to make your own soba with the best combination.

How do I make the sauce?

You don’t need to make the sauce for cold noodles. You can just use the “mentsuyu”, which literally means sauce for noodles. For reference, we use the picture below for all of our noodle recipes. It’s mentsuyu sauce that is extracted from “Konbu-dashi”, which is a type of seaweed. There is also another mentsuyu sauce with “Katsuo-dashi”, which is extracted from a fish called bonito. Both have a distinct taste, so try both to see which one you prefer!

“Kake soba” is a style that you pour the sauce on top, so go ahead and pour about 3-4 tbsp of this sauce on top. If it’s too salty for you, it’s ok to dilute it with water. Usually, soba or somen noodles are eaten by creating a dipping sauce, and in that case, you will need to dilute this mentsuyu with water. Otherwise, it will be too salty so be careful of over pouring it! The ratio is usually written behind the mentsuyu bottle for reference.

Category

Yields2 Servings

 2 Soba Noodles
 Mentsuyu Sauce(3-4tbsp/ person)
 ½ Tomato
 4 Okra
 2 Natto Packs
 Any Summer Vegetables raised in article
Recommended Toppings/Seasonings
 Nori (Dry seaweed paper)
 Sesame
 Wasabi

1

Cook the soba noodles in boiling water. (Check the time indicated behind the soba packs) Together, boil the okra for the same period of time.

2

When done boiling, drain the water, and run the noodles in cold water. Add some ice to make them cold enough.

3

Cut the tomato & boiled okra into diced pieces. Mix the natto with natto sauce.

4

After draining the water, place the soba noodles on a plate. Place some ice to keep cold. Decorate with tomatoes, okra, and natto. Pour the mentsuyu sauce. Lastly, garnish with toppings.

Ingredients

 2 Soba Noodles
 Mentsuyu Sauce(3-4tbsp/ person)
 ½ Tomato
 4 Okra
 2 Natto Packs
 Any Summer Vegetables raised in article
Recommended Toppings/Seasonings
 Nori (Dry seaweed paper)
 Sesame
 Wasabi

Directions

1

Cook the soba noodles in boiling water. (Check the time indicated behind the soba packs) Together, boil the okra for the same period of time.

2

When done boiling, drain the water, and run the noodles in cold water. Add some ice to make them cold enough.

3

Cut the tomato & boiled okra into diced pieces. Mix the natto with natto sauce.

4

After draining the water, place the soba noodles on a plate. Place some ice to keep cold. Decorate with tomatoes, okra, and natto. Pour the mentsuyu sauce. Lastly, garnish with toppings.

Cold Kake Soba with Summer Vegetables
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