Noodles are a summer staple in Japan! This soba noodle salad with seasonal summer vegetables is made up of chilled buckwheat noodles that are topped with tasty miso flavoured meat sauce and mixed with aubergine, okra and tomatoes. It's quick to make, refreshing and so delicious!
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What are soba noodles?
Soba noodles are a type of Japanese noodle made with "buckwheat flour". They have a distinctive greyish brown colour and are similar to spaghetti in thickness. Compared to other noodles made with wheat flour, buckwheat soba noodles are considered healthier and are said to have more nutritional value.
Soba noodles have a great history of roughly 1400 years and are considered one of the most iconic Japanese dishes along with sushi or tempura.
You can buy dry soba noodles on Amazon.
Hot or Cold?
Soba can be served hot or cold.
As you can expect, people prefer cold soba dishes in summer and soba with hot soup in winter.
The most popular examples of soba dishes are:
- Zaru Soba (ざるそば): Cold soba with dipping sauce (See my zaru udon recipe to learn how to make mentsuyu dipping sauce for zaru soba!)
- Kake Soba (かけそば): Soba with simple hot soup
- Tempura Soba: Soba noodles (hot or cold) served with tempura
This is only a small list but in reality, soba noodles are very versatile and can be used to replace spaghetti or other kinds of noodles in a whole range of dishes. The possibility of soba is limitless!
What do Japanese people eat in summer?
Summer in Japan is extremely hot and humid, not an ideal condition for standing in the kitchen. That's why we opt for quick and easy dishes, whilst craving something cold and refreshing. Chilled noodle dishes are one of the most popular things to eat during summer. Here are a few of the most popular summer noodle dishes in Japan:
- Cold Somen (thin wheat noodles)
- Cold udon "Zaru Udon" (ざるうどん)
- Cold Soba "Zaru Soba"
- Cold Ramen "Hiyashi Chuka" (冷やし中華)
These are a few of Japanese summery lunch legends!
Noodles are usually served cold with a dipping sauce. It's also common to eat cold noodles with tempura or salad.
Soba Noodle Salad with Summer Vegetables
In today's recipe, I use 3 summer vegetables:
- Aubergine (Eggplant)
But the vegetable choice doesn't have to be limited to these above, you can use any popular summer vegetables in your country! Bell peppers, cucumber and courgette (zucchini) also work great!
Fresh seasonal vegetables are the best!
Watch the video, how to make refreshing Soba Salad with Summer Vegetables!
Soba noodles are made from mainly buckwheat flour along with wheat flour and water.
If the soba noodles are 100% buckwheat flour then they're gluten free, check the packaging carefully to be sure. Soba noodles are often made with a mixture of buckwheat flour and wheat flour.
Soba is grey-ish brown in colour and thinner than udon, whereas udon is white and tends to be very thick.
The noodles themselves are vegan. In this recipe you can replace the ground meat with soy meat and vegan miso paste to make it vegan.