Soba Noodle Dipping Sauce

Summertime, Sarah Vaughan, and sweet lullaby. Sunny gardens and languid nights, windows open, gentle breezes, fecund insects, fireflies… Cool grass, fruiting vegetation, comfort. Zara soba, slippery refreshment, simple food. Breathe easy…

Noodle Dipping Sauce

from: The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo
page 67
3 cups


  • 6 Tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons tamari
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Heat the two soy sauces together in a small saucepan over low heat until hot. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for a week before using it to make tsukejiru. The flavor matures over time.
Finishing the tsukejiru:

  • 3 cups ichiban dashi (first fish stock)
  • ½ cup kaeshi
  • ½ cup katsuobushi (dried bonito fish flakes)

In a medium pot, bring the dashi and kaeshi to a boil over moderate heat. Add the fish flakes and immediately remove the pot from the heat. Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with a cotton cloth. Let the sauce cool, then refrigerate it (covered) for up to three days.

Cook the soba according to package directions, wash under cold running water until the water is clear. Removing the starch this way keeps the noodles from turning into a gummy mass. You can refrigerate them for an hour or so, then arrange the noodles on shallow bowls or plates. A nice way to arrange the noodles is to pick up small bunchs of noodles with your fingers and curl them into little bundles on the plates. I put a few small ice cubes in each shallow bowl to keep the noodles cold. I would love to have noodle baskets so the noodles would drain!
Serve the dipping sauce in a small bowls on the side. To eat, pick up a bunch of noodles and dip them into the sauce. Feel free to bring the sauce bowl up to your lips and slurp.
Good condiments to serve with soba noodles:
finely sliced green onions, wasabi, seven-flavor pepper (tohgarashi), toasted sesame seeds, shredded green shiso leaves, finely cut nori (cut with a pair of kitchen scissors), grated fresh ginger, or grated yuzu peel. I like a bit of lemon or lime juice as well.

We rounded out the meal with a cucumber purslane salad and cold sliced tori namban.


14 thoughts on “Soba Noodle Dipping Sauce

  1. Oh Tess,
    I adore Zaru Soba! Some of my favorite times in Japan were spent during the summer in Japan at my favorite Temple Jindaiji, just outside of Tokyo… they have many soba restaurants there.
    I LOVE the Sarah Vaughan also. A lovely post for the summertime, thanks Tess!

    • Hi Karla,
      I like soba a lot. It’s good served simply as well as dressed up. Very versatile.
      Years ago, there was a nightly Detroit radio jazz program hosted by Ed Love. He would concentrate a singer for a week at a time and Sarah was such a favorite of his that he’d do a couple of weeks devoted to her music. It was back in the days of cassette recorders and I have a couple of cassettes I tapes of the programs. She was so great.

  2. Your soba sounds like just the thing for summer – simple, beautiful, comfortable. I we should do a soba tour of Japan Tess, after we have visited all the ramen museums that is. At a conference recently I met a woman who had taken a walking tour of Japan following in the footsteps of Basho – stopping where he stopped and reading his words.

    Is it still steamy in MI?

  3. I’m way up north in MI now. It’s cold and rainy today here. Still hot down south though.

    Noodle tours of Japan are just what I’d love to do. Here, it’s pasty country.

    • Dear Tess I’m so suggestible. You only had to breathe the word pastie and immediately I wanted one – started to picture them cooling on a windowsill. So today my path was clear. Make the relish, then the pastry and while it rested the filling. Ah what a lovely day. Thank-you Tess. Xx

  4. What sort of relish do you make for pasties? We just usually have black pepper and catsup. My brother ordered a pasty in a restaurant the other day. It came with mushroom gravy. That is over-doing a good thing LOL!

    We are now traveling home, staying tonight in Paradise. Just short of Whitefish Point where so many shipwrecks occurred…

    Still a long trip ahead, but we’ll enjoy the journey, stopping to swim and check out waterfalls.

    I’d like to show you the sights in Michigan.
    xxx Tess

  5. Oh a journey with swims and waterfalls does sound like paradise! Do some swimming for me.
    At the moment I’m refining a relish that I think came from an old copy of Vogue Entertaining – a red pepper relish – wonderful jewel like colour and just a little heat from a deseeded chillie. I’m not too brave with heat. It’s nice with the pastie although I don’t mind a blob of good old tomato sauce if the truth be known.
    Yes please take on a tour of Michigan – if only though pictures. (-:

    • It was an amazing trip: sad, but also so wonderful. I’ll post some pictures on my other blog once I catch up with myself. Traveling-time is not the same as time spent at home: both too long and tiring as well as too short because one must miss so many possibilities.

      I would love to see Australia too. Methinks a single kangaroo dinner does not do justice…

  6. Pingback: Kimchi, Soba, and Pesto « Tess's Japanese Kitchen

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