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Traditional cold zaru soba with tsuyu dipping sauce -- for very hot days!

Hot days call for cold foods, fresh, light and with subtle flavor. This is just the type of cold meal that is perfect for the hot Hyderabad afternoons.

While looking through my library for this recipe, I came across 2 recipes that were very interesting. This one was made in the very traditional method sticking to the core of the recipe. The second recipe, coming tomorrow, is more contemporary version of this same dish. I decided to make both so I could taste the differences and share both versions.

Soba noodles are Japanese buckwheat noodles with a brown color and a nutty flavor. They are often mistaken, but can be interchanged for somen noodles that are white and have a wonderful chewy texture. More on both these noodles here:

This is a light dish with subtle and delicate flavors. The soft noodles are perfect with the crunch of the cucumber and the diced shiitake mushrooms. The dish comes together with the dipping sauce, called tsuyu, light with salt from the soy and the "umami" from the mushrooms. The dash of wasabi adds a touch of heat, the perfect finish to this dish. This dish is the perfect balance of fresh and healthy, and will keep you cool on a hot afternoon.

This is a book for advanced cook on noodle dishes from across Asia. The recipes are phenomenal, so above the regular, and steeped in local ingredients and beautiful flavors. Terry Durack has been a food critic for the Sydney Herald Tribune for years. I have no idea how, why or where I picked up this book, but every recipe I cook from it is phenomenal. This book has taught me the art of noodles, choosing them, cooking them and of course enjoying them. A serious cookbook for serious chefs.

For more recipes from this amazing cookbook, click here.


For the dashi stock:

1-inch piece kombu

A pinch bonito flakes (avoid for vegan version)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups water

4-5 dried shiitake mushrooms

1 1/2 cup dashi stock

1/2 cup mirin

1-1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 small cucumber, cut into very fine matchsticks or peeled with a julienne peeler

A handful watercress or arugula, blanched or kept raw

2-3 scallions, cut into thin circles

Wasabi paste. If you have wasabi powder, mix some in with water to form a thick paste

7 oz soba or somen noodles

8 cups water

To make the dashi:

Heat the water with salt and when boiling add the kombu. Simmer for 1 minute, take off the flame and add the bonito flakes. Allow to cool. Strain keeping the stock.

Soak the mushrooms in water overnight or in hot water for 1 hour.

Combine the dashi stock with the soaked mushrooms, mirin, soy sauce, and simmer for 4 minutes. Taste and adjust salt. Set aside to cool and then chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

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 again 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. Cool under running cold water and then chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

To serve, load the chilled soba in a bowl, individual bowls are best. Top with some cucumbers, the arugula and scallions. Serve with the dashi dipping sauce and wasabi on the side. Enjoy chilled.

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