Quick Soba Noodles

Need a quick noodle fix? These simple soba noodles are fast and full of flavor: perfect as an Asian style side dish or easy dinner.

Soba noodles

Need a quick noodle fix? Try these simple soba noodles! Soba are a Japanese buckwheat noodle, and they’re perfect as a component for a fast and easy dinner. Done in about 15 minutes, they’re covered in a zingy sauce of soy, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and honey and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. Throw them in a bowl and top with an egg or sauteed shrimp, and you’ve got dinner! Because they’re so fast, Alex and I have been relying on them as a crutch for quick weeknight meals. They’re also a great side dish for Asian-style meals like Teriyaki Salmon or Shrimp and Broccoli. Here’s what you need to know about soba!

Types of soba noodles

Soba are a traditional Japanese buckwheat noodle. They’re easy to find at your local grocery, either in the noodles section or near the Japanese ingredients. Because they’re made with buckwheat flour, most soba are naturally gluten-free. However, some brands also have wheat flour in them: so make sure to check the package if you eat gluten free.

There is a lot of variation in soba noodle brands! Alex and I have tested dozens, and we find that every brand of soba is different. Some are very thin and tend to break, so we try to look for soba that are thicker and hold up better. Make sure to experiment a bit to find the brand of soba that you like best.

Soba noodles

What’s in this soba noodles recipe?

This soba noodles recipe is fast and easy to make, and most of the ingredients are pantry staples! It’s essentially a pantry meal aside from the green onion. So you can leave out the green onions if you don’t have them on hand! Here’s what’s in this soba noodles recipe:

  • Soba noodles
  • Soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • Toasted sesame oil: make sure it is toasted, not regular! Toasted sesame oil is intended for flavoring, whereas regular sesame oil is neutral in flavor
  • Rice vinegar
  • Honey or maple syrup
  • Miso: optional but adds great flavor (see below)
  • Garlic
  • Green onions (optional)
  • Sesame seeds (optional; if you use them toast them!)
Soba noodles with sesame seeds

Rinse your soba to remove starch!

Here’s an important note about cooking soba noodles: rinse them after they’re done cooking! Rinsing pasta is not required for something like Italian spaghetti or penne. But for soba, rinsing is necessary to remove starch the builds up during cooking.

If you don’t rinse, here’s what happens: the soba becomes very gummy and mushy. It also absorbs the sauce and becomes dry instead of saucy. So please: rinse your soba after cooking! You’ll notice a big difference.

A secret ingredient: miso

This soba noodles recipe contains a little secret ingredient: miso! If you’ve never cooked with it, we highly recommend getting a container for your fridge (and it lasts for months). Miso is a Japanese fermented soybean paste that’s full of nutrients and savory flavor (or, umami). Umami is the so called “fifth flavor” after sour, salty, sweet, and bitter. It adds incredible flavor to any dish!

You can find miso at most major grocery stores near the other Japanese ingredients. There are many different types of miso, all with different flavors: red, yellow, and brown. Alex and I used brown miso here, which contributed to the dark color of these noodles.

Since we cook mostly plant based, Alex and I tend to use it to get a meaty or cheesy flavor in recipes. It’s great in Easy Miso Ramen, and even works to substitute Parmesan flavor in our Vegan Pesto!

Sesame soba noodles

Why to toast sesame seeds

For the best flavor, garnish these soba noodles with toasted sesame seeds! Of course, you can just use straight up sesame seeds. But toasting your sesame seeds in a pan heightens the nutty flavor considerably. It’s almost like using salt on food: it brings out the existing flavor and takes it to new heights! It only takes 3 minutes to toast sesame seeds, and you can store leftovers in a sealed container for months. Go to How to Toast Sesame Seeds.

Make it a meal!

Now for the fun part: how to make these soba noodles into a meal! You can serve them as part of an easy dinner main dish, or a side to an Asian style entree. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Top with an egg. The easiest way to make it dinner! Top with a fried egg or soft boiled egg. Dinner, solved!
  • Top with tofu. This Pan Fried Tofu is our favorite method for weeknights. Or try Marinaded Tofu, which requires little hands on effort and can be stored in the fridge.
  • Top with shrimp. Try this quick and healthy Sauteed shrimp! To stick with Asian flavors, use plain sesame oil for cooking and substitute the lemon for a drizzle of rice vinegar and soy sauce at the end.
  • Add edamame. This quick Asian style side is so simple! Try with Easy Edamame or Spicy Edamame.
  • Serve with a stir fry! Try it with our Easy Stir Fry Vegetables!
  • Serve as a side dish to shrimp or salmon. Try it with Teriyaki Salmon or Shrimp and Broccoli.
Soba noodles recipe

This soba noodles recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Soba noodles

Quick Soba Noodles


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (32 votes, average: 4.09 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Need a quick noodle fix? These simple soba noodles are fast and full of flavor: perfect as an Asian style side dish or easy dinner.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces soba noodles
  • 1/4 cup regular soy sauce (or substitute tamari or coconut aminos)
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon miso (optional; we used dark miso)
  • 1 teaspoon grated garlic
  • 4 green onions
  • Sriracha, to taste (optional)
  • Toasted sesame seeds*
  • To make it a meal: Fried egg or soft boiled egg, Pan fried tofu or Marinaded tofu, or Sauteed shrimp

Instructions

  1. Cook the noodles: Cook the soba noodles according to the package instructions: it should take about 4 to 5 minutes. Important: when the noodles are done cooking, rinse them under cool running water in a strainer, tossing them to remove the starch. Then shake off excess water. If you’d like the noodles to be warm when serving, run them under warm water for a few seconds; you can also serve room temperature or cold. (If you skip this step, the noodles soak up the sauce and become too dry.)
  2. Whisk the sauce: Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together the soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey or maple syrup, miso (if using), and grated garlic.
  3. Slice the onions: Thinly slice the green onions on the bias (diagonally), using both white and dark green parts.
  4. Combine and serve: Return the rinsed and shaken dry noodles to the pan or a bowl; stir in the sauce and green onions. Place in serving bowls, top with sesame seeds and serve. 

Notes

*Toasting the sesame seeds really brings out the nutty flavor! It takes only 3 minutes and you can taste the difference. Store toasted sesame seeds for months in a sealed container in the pantry.

  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Japanese

Keywords: Soba noodles

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

4 Comments

  • Reply
    Chelsea Brown
    June 15, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    What brand of soba noodles did you cook for this – the pictures look amazing!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      June 16, 2020 at 9:40 am

      I believe it was Hakubaku brand.

  • Reply
    Ava
    June 22, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    This is a weird question, but in the bowl pictured with the soba noodles, was that the entire batch (4 servings)?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      June 22, 2020 at 5:24 pm

      Yes!

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