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Contemporary zaru soba with mango and avocado

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

Zaru soba is a very traditional Japanese side dish made during the summer months. It is paired with lightly grilled fish typically for a light meal.

This dish is a contemporary version of the Traditional zaru soba I published yesterday. The dish is light and has all the traditional flavor profiles o the original. However, the addition of mango adds a light, fun and more tropical flavor. The presentation of the dish more as a soup, rather than a dipping dish, moving away from the traditional dipping origins of the dish. The avocado adds the creaminess and the grated radish is a standard in Japanese cuisine completing the flavor profile. This version is lighter, sweeter and fun to eat. Is it better than the traditional version, no, I believe that there is a place for both depending on the day and meal you are serving.

This is a wonderful book for one dish meals, pho, ramen, Korean bibimbap, salads and rice bowls from across Asia and couscous and exotic grain bowls from the Mediterranean and Europe. The bowls are perfect for any occasion. I go to it often when I want a great single dish meal.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


For the dashi:

2 2-inch squares kombu

2 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked overnight in 1 cup water, or in hot water for 1 hour

1 quart water, including strained mushroom soaking water

For the stock:

1/2 cup sake

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cups dashi, from above

1/2-1 teaspoon wasabi powder, mixed into a smooth slurry with water + more for the table

Salt, as needed

10 oz. soba noodles

2 baby cucumbers, peeled with a Julienne peeler or cut into very thin slices

1 mango, thinly sliced

1 avocado, thinly sliced

Nori sheets, cut into thin strips

1/4 cup grated white radish

To make the dashi:

Heat the water and when boiling add the mushrooms and kombu and simmer gently for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and let cool naturally to room temperature. Remove kombu and discard. Keep mushroom if desired.

Heat the sake in a pot and simmer for 2 minutes till the alcohol has evaporated. Add the soy, sugar and dashi and bring to a simmer till the sugar has melted completely. Set aside to cool. Mix in the wasabi paste and incorporate well leaving no lumps. Taste and adjust heat with more wasabi and salt.

To make the noodles:

Cook the soba noodles by bringing the water to a boil. Add the noodles and bring back to a boil. When simmering, add 1/2 cup water and bring back to a boil. When simmering well, add half cup water and bring back to a boil. Boil for 1 minute and test noodle, it should be cooked just right. Do not make too soft, they need to remain with a bite for texture in the salad. Set aside to cool and then chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

To assemble:

Divide the dashi sauce into 4 individual bowls. Top with the noodles divided equally. Top with the mango, avocao and the cucumbers. Add 1 tablespoon of the grated radish in a pile in the center and scatter some nori strips all over. Serve chilled.with extra wasabi paste on the side.

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