Soba Sushi

This post is inspired by an amazing meal
which Blue Lotus wrote about recently.
I was very surprised to see that one course included “tofu shumai”
which looked like the “tofu daisies” I made recently!
Then I saw another unusual dish:
sushi made with soba noodles rather than rice!
Apparently it’s not well known even in Japan.
Funny, but there are recipes in two of my cookbooks:
The Japanese Kitchen, and Washoku!

It’s been more than a year since I last made this,
but for your dining pleasure



I now present: Soba Sushi

Soba Zushi
serves 3-4
page 325

  • 10 1/2 ounces dried soba
    (3 bundles, each about 3 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 avocado, coarsely mashed with juice of 1/2 lime or 1/2 lemon
  • 6-7 ounces shrimp, boiled and chopped coarsely
    (I used some of the “shrimp stock” to make the tsukejiru because I was out of dashi, and it wasn’t bad!)
  • 1 Japanese cucumber or 1/2 American cucumber
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 sheets nori


Tie each bundle of soba. Hold a bundle of noodles vertically and tap on the counter to align the ends. Wrap a length of kitchen twine twice around the bundle, pull tight, and fasten with a square knot.

Because my only kitchen helper was a cat, it was impossible to make my knots tight enough—you need someone to put a finger on the knot to hold it tight as you lock it—I used thin rubber bands stretched and wrapped around the very end of each bundle. And, yes, rubber bands are probably not made of “food-safe” plastic, but we are only going to boil the noodles for a few minutes, then cut that part of the noodles off and discard.

Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil. Put one bundle of noodles into the boiling water and use tongs to bend the noodles into the water. Begin to swish it around to separate the strands as quickly as possible. A chopstick or two poking at the bundle helps to allow the boiling water to reach the tied end. The noodles cook in about 4 minutes. (I hate soggy noodles so I began to test them at 3 minutes.) Use a strainer to remove the bundle of noodles. Plunge it into cold water, and then rinse the noodles under cold running water to remove the starch. Shake off as much water as you can. Cook the other bundles one at a time. If you are not going to make the sushi immediately, wrap each bundle of noodles in plastic wrap and refrigerate. You may have to rinse and dry the noodles again before rolling the sushi.
If you are using a Japanese cucumber, rub it with coarse salt—sometimes the salt turns green—and rinse. Cut the cucumber diagonally to make thin oval shaped slices. Layer the slices and cut to make julienne strips tipped with dark green. If you are using half an American cuke, cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Slice into thin strips. Salt the cucumber slices for 2 minutes to draw out liquid. Squeeze dry.

Soba Sushi on a platter

Assembling the Sushi:
Have at hand a small bowl of (not salted) water to dip your fingers so the noodles don’t stick. Also, be sure your fillings are within easy reach.
Put nori, shiny side down on your rolling mat (sudaré), the shorter side of the nori aligned with the shorter side of the mat. Place one bundle of noodles in the middle of the nori and carefully cut the tied end. Discard. Spread (comb with your fingers) the noodles over the nori: leave about 1″ nearest you uncovered, and about 2″ of the nori farthest from you uncovered.
If you like, paint a thin line of wasabi just this side of the middle of the noodles, then arrange your filling ingredients across the noodles. Put your thumbs under the mat and use your fingers to hold the filling in place as you flip the edge of your roll over. Aim for a spot just beyond the filling. Grasp the rolling mat and press gently to firm up the roll. Lift the leading edge of the mat and roll forward over the noodles. Press, roll, press. Move the roll to a platter and let it rest on the seam. Proceed with the other 2 rolls.
Cut the rolls just before serving. Make a cut through the midde. Dip your knife in water, cut each half in half. Dip. Then cut each quarter in half. Set the sushi on a platter for guests to serve themselves, or arrange 3 or 4 on a plate with garnish. Eat them with noodle dipping sauce (tsukejiru).

Other filling suggestions: wakame, unagi, smoked salmon, thin omelette, bean or radish sprouts, sesame seeds, crabmeat (or Krab), pickled vegetables, ham, smoked turkey, well just use your imagination!

sushi fillings 2007Sushi mat 2007Sushi on a plate 2007

(Ms. Shimbo’s recipe: spinach (blanched), julienned red bell pepper, and abura-age simmered with sake, mirin, and sugar) As you can see, you can make this sushi by distributing random noodles ofver the nori, but it’s more difficult to get a firm roll.

My sushi rolling skills need practice. I want to make the sushi without that spiral of nori showing. Perhaps I should have more filling to noodle ratio, and I should leave more of the nori at the far end? Marisa at In the Kitchen with a Southern Sushi Chef has some excellent tips for making sushi. Anyway, I found these much easier to make than the inside-out-roll!

Soba Sushi

Other Noodle Recipes from Tess
Other Sushi Recipes from Tess

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4 thoughts on “Soba Sushi

  1. These are always fun to make. Yes, leaving a lip at the top should help eliminate the spiral inside the roll. Also, did you use a full or half sheet of nori? Using whole sheets leaves spirals in the middle, too. Usually a half sheet is more than sufficient and you can get a tighter roll. Try making these with a half sheet futomaki style.

    I wish I had one these right now. Mmmm.

  2. Wow Tess, that’s amazing! I’d love to try making this myself but I can’t even make regular sushi rolls (temaki is as ambitious as I get), so I doubt I can make sobazushi as nicely as you can. Maybe I’ll show this post to my husband and see if he gets the hint.

  3. Amy,
    If your wonderful husband can make a regular makii roll, then he would be able to make this! I think Marisa has good instruction. The first time I tried I think I did what she said: used a half sheet throwing my cookbook directions to the wind. Check out her site and instructions!
    NOTE: the tying of the noodles to line up is mostly obsessive-compulsive. It works just fine by putting random noodles–
    I’ve not tried temaki yet. Now, that looks a bit tricky to me!

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