The Best Japanese Noodles
Japanese noodle dishes, especially soba noodles, are one of my favorite treats. Here’s my favorite hot noodle recipe, but I also love eating cool and refreshing zaru soba in the warm weather months. Making them requires having a few pantry items like dashi, (bonito fish and kombu seaweed stock) on hand. Any of the specialty items can be obtained at your local Asian market.
Soba Noodles with Shrimp Tempura
- 1/2 pound dry soba noodles
- Vegetable oil, for drizzling
- 8 cups water
- 1 ounce kombu (dried kelp)
- 1 cup packed bonito flakes (1/2 ounce)
- 2 tablespoons shoyu or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon light shoyu
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Kosher salt
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Kosher salt
- 1 to 1 1/4 cups chilled club soda or seltzer
- 12 large shrimp—shelled and deveined, tails left on
- Thinly sliced radishes, for serving
- Thinly sliced scallions, for serving
Prepare the Soba and Broth
In a large saucepan of boiling water, cook the soba noodles until al dente, about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water until cooled. Shake out the excess water and transfer the noodles to a large bowl; drizzle with oil and toss to coat.
Rinse out the saucepan. Add the water and kombu and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Discard the kombu. Add the bonito and remove the saucepan from the heat. Let stand until the broth is well-flavored, about 3 minutes. Strain the dashi through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan. Stir in the shoyu, light shoyu and sugar and season the broth with salt; keep hot over low heat.
Make the Tempura
In a large saucepan, heat 1 inch of oil to 365°. Set a rack over a baking sheet. In a medium bowl, whisk the rice flour with the baking powder, baking soda and a pinch of salt. Gently whisk in 1 cup of the club soda just until a smooth batter forms; add more club soda if the batter is too thick. Working close to the stove, dip 6 of the shrimp in the batter and add them to the hot oil. Fry until golden brown and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to the rack to drain. Repeat with the remaining shrimp.
Transfer the soba to bowls and top with the hot broth. Garnish with the shrimp tempura, radishes and scallions and serve.
NOTES I also like to serve the soba chilled with julienned raw vegetables and a chilled dipping sauce made by mixing 1 cup of the strained (but not seasoned) dashi with 2 tablespoons of shoyu, 3/4 teaspoon of tamari and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.