During the summer, all I want to eat are chilled noodles. Whether they’re Korean naemyeong with a beefy slushy broth, Japanese hiyashi chuka topped with shredded eggs and plump tomatoes, or spicy Sichuan noodles loaded with mouth-numbing chilis, cold noodles leave me satiated and refreshed.
The tricky thing about making them at home, however, is that they require a long list of ingredients and ample prep—so much so that I’d rather get takeout. It’s summer after all, and the last place I want to be is stuck in my warm kitchen.
So for when the hankering for some cold noodles comes to me, I always have two pantry essentials on hand: soba noodles and mentsuyu concentrate, a bottled Japanese broth base for noodles. With these two ingredients, I can be slurping refreshing noodles in 10 minutes flat.
How To Prepare Cold Soba Noodles
Enough for one generous serving or two small portions, you’ll need:
- 1 bundle soba noodles, about 4 ounces
- 1/4 cup mentsuyu concentrate
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup cold water
Preparing the noodles couldn’t be simpler: I boil the soba noodles following package instructions, which usually takes four to six minutes depending on the brand. Be careful not to overcook the noodles or else they’ll become mushy. Then this is important too. Rinse the noodles under cold running water immediately after to get rid of starch and halt the cooking process. Drain them well.
While the noodles are boiling, mix the mentsuyu concentrate with cold water, typically at a one-to-three ratio of broth to water. Double-check the instructions on the bottle as the ratio may vary by brand. I’ve tried two brands Shirakiku and Kikkoman, and I’d recommend both.
Adjust the strength to taste—start with 1/2 cup water and add more if needed. Sometimes I use the broth for dipping the noodles into, so the broth is more concentrated. In that case, I’ll place it in a smaller bowl instead of pouring it over the noodles.
Place the noodles in a bowl and pour the mentsuyu over them. If it’s extra hot outside, I’ll add a couple of ice cubes to make sure the broth is very chilled.
Add Toppings To Bolster This Meal
Although the soba noodles and broth are delicious on their own, I like to add toppings and side dishes to make it a more filling meal. Green onions, toasted sesame seeds, shredded seaweed, and a small dollop of wasabi. If I have yuzu juice on hand—I like this bottle from Yuzuco—I’ll add a capful to immediately brighten the broth and for citrusy summer vibes.
Then, I’ll rummage through my freezer for frozen shrimp tempura from Costco and Trader Joe’s Vegetable Bird’s Nests. If I’m out of either, I’ll boil a couple of eggs or grab cold, soft tofu or edamame for extra heft.