Friday, January 5, 2007

Zaru Soba

Most Japanese dishes alone tend to be fairly blend in taste, made from soy and hardly contain traces of oil, which I think it is good for health. They are usually accompanied by the famous devilish wasabi and dipping sauces. Take soba noodles for example. Traditional soba noodles are made from a mixture of buckwheat and wheat flour, though now there is a variety of soba noodles. Some are flavoured with ocha (green tea) and the latest craze is of charcoal based. You saw that right. I had charcoal soba on New Year's Eve. As I know the black coal soba is a lil pricier than the rest and is said to have healing properties. It tasted relatively alike with buckwheat soba, slimier and does not have the after taste effect. Price wise, I'll opt for buckwheat/ocha.

Mori soba is the most basic preparation of the soba noodles. Mori soba's noodles are boiled, served cold on the bamboo sieve/mat and eaten with a soya based dipping sauce (tsuyu) and condiments such as raw quail eggs and spring onions. Whereas zaru soba is actually mori soba that is served with momi nori (shredded seaweed). Confusing? Well, I hope I got that right as well. Lolz... Anyway, zaru literaly means bamboo sieve on which the soba noodles are being served. I might note that my photo shows only soba on a plate as I don't have any bamboo seive on hand. Nevertheless, the method of preparing and serving the dish is still zaru soba; though without the actual 'zaru'.

You may use any variety of soba that you prefer. I used soba (buckwheat). As for the dipping sauce, you can either prepare it from scratch or purchase soba-tsuyu from any Japanese store. Just make sure that the tsuyu is of the 'ready-to-eat' type. If you are up to making it from scratch, dashi stock is made from bonito flakes and mirin is sweet rice wine. These can be bought too, though I will say that buying a premade tsuyu saves lots of time. Oh, if you want to have raw quail eggs in your tsuyu, just make sure the eggs are really really really fresh. You wouldn't want to end up having food poisoning. Just break the egg into the tsuyu, stir in the condiments and dip soba into the mixture.


Soba Tsuyu
1/2 cup Soya sauce
2 cups Dashi stock
3 tbsp Mirin

Mix all in a saucepan and bring to boil.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator.

Zaru Soba
200 g Soba
2 litres Water
Large bowl of iced water
Soba tsuyu
Momi nori (shredded unflavoured seaweed)
Spring onion - finely chopped
Roasted seaseme seads
2 Fresh quail eggs (optional)
Wasabi (optional)

Boil water in a large pot.
Place soba in boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes or as instructed on the package. Remove cooked soba and rinse in iced water.
Drain and place soba on a plate lined with a bamboo sieve/mat. Sprinkle momi nori on soba.
Pour cold tsuyu in a small bowl.
In a small dish, place a little spring onions, seaseme seeds, quail eggs and wasabi.
Serve soba with tsuyu and condiments.
Serves 1-2 depending on stomach capacity.

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