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Zaru soba with tempura prawns

Japan's soba is arguably the most iconic buckwheat noodle. Ours is made with dashi and bonbito flakes for an unami finish.

By Emma Knowles
  • Serves 4
Zaru soba with tempura prawns
Zaru soba with tempura prawns

Japan's soba is arguably the most iconic buckwheat noodle. In its earliest incarnation, soba was made entirely of buckwheat flour, creating a brittle, fragile noodle. For ease of handling it was steamed and served in a bamboo basket or slatted box called a zaru, hence the name of the following classic dish. These days, wheat flour is included when making soba. Soba has a close relative, Korea's naeng myun, made from buckwheat flour and potato starch. Naeng myun or 'cold noodles' are often served with a chilled beef broth and kimchi.


  • 125 ml dark soy sauce (½ cup)
  • 80 ml mirin (1/3 cup)
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 30 gm bonito flakes
  • 250 gm dried green cha soba (see note)
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced, to serve
  • To serve: minced ginger, wasabi and toasted nori
  • 15 gm kombu (see note)
  • 15 gm bonito flakes
Tempura prawns
  • 12 green prawns, peeled, veins removed, tails intact
  • 150 gm tempura flour (see note)
  • For deep-frying: vegetable oil


  • 1
    For dashi, combine 550ml filtered water with kombu in a saucepan over low heat for 10 minutes. Bring just to a simmer, remove kombu and discard, bring stock to a rolling boil, add 60ml cold water, then add bonito flakes. Return to the boil, remove from heat and stand until bonito settles to the bottom. Strain through a muslin-lined sieve, discarding solids.
  • 2
    Combine dashi, soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, add bonito, remove from heat and refrigerate until completely chilled.
  • 3
    Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add soba and return to the boil. Add 1 cup of cold water to pan. Return to the boil, then add another cup of cold water. Repeat this process 2 more times, depending on thickness of the soba, until noodles are just cooked. Drain, rinse well in cold water and set aside.
  • 4
    For tempura prawns, make batter according to directions on flour packet. Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 180C. Coat prawns in batter and deep-fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden, then transfer to an absorbent paper-lined plate.
  • 5
    Divide noodles among serving bowls and serve with individual dishes of dipping sauce, tempura prawns, green onion, minced ginger, wasabi and toasted nori for each person.


Note Green cha soba is made with the addition of green tea powder. Kombu, a type of seaweed used in Japan to make stock, is available at Asian grocery stores. Tempura flour, a combination of plain and corn flours, is available from Asian grocery stores.

  • Author: Emma Knowles