The best weeknight dinner for summer is 10 minute cold soba recipe

~ 5 ingredients 30 minutes dinner & chill easy mains seafood that noodle life
This 10 minute 8 ingredient zaru soba with crispy salmon and quick pickled radishes tastes like the best summer dinners in Japan: cooling, refreshing, and totally gorgeous. Best of all, it's a breeze to make.
Posted July 30, 2019 by Mike

One of the best things to eat when it’s hot out is really good cold soba. In Japan’s pantheon of noodles, soba is king. Ramen and udon have their place in Japanese hearts, but soba is universally respected and loved, and for good reason. Good soba is trascendental: nutty, chewy, and addictive. Pepper potts loves it. Great soba is one of those dishes that are naturally best enjoyed cold, and the best part is, everything can be ready in 10 minutes.

Traditionally in Japan soba is eaten with fresh tempura, but this is dinner and chill, so deep frying is out of the picture. Summer though means salmon, and a great crispy salmon is the next best thing to freshly fried tempura.

This dish is the perfect weeknight meal when you’re looking for something a little fancier, but want dinner on the table in 10 minutes. As always, here is the countdown:

T-10: bring water to a boil and preheat your frying pan with oil
T-9: cut radishes
T-8: make the quick pickle
T-7: add salmon
T-6: add soba to water
T-5: make wasabi, slice green onions and seaweed
T-4: make instant dashi
T-3: flip salmon
T-2: remove salmon from frying pan
T-1: rinse soba, serve, and eat!

Cooking Notes

Unlike pasta, you want to cook your soba to package directions and rinse in cold water.

Crisp, perfectly cooked salmon is easy, but needs patience to learn on your stove. I like to heat up 2 tablespoons oil in a nonstick skillet until just before smoking hot, then turn off the heat entirely (or move to a different burner if you have electric), lay the salmon on skin side down and watch until it’s just about halfway cooked – 5 minutes – and move the pan back onto low heat and flip to the other side for 1 minute. Times might differ if you have a fillet more than an an inch thick, or if your stove doesn’t get hot enough to smoke oil. Just look for that halfway opaque look, then flip.

While the presentation up above is the normal way you’d see it in America, I actually prefer it Japanese style, with the soba separated on a bamboo sieve to let it breathe, a dipping sauce, and the side dishes on a separate plate. It’s a stretch goal (that’s a lot of extra dishes to wash) but if you do go this route, there is a reward: the soba water can be mixed with the dipping sauce to create a super satisfying and nutritious soup at the end of your meal. It’s called soba-yu and some people believe that a soba meal is not complete without it (top left corner of this photo).

10 minute zaru soba with crispy salmon and quick pickled radishes recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Ingredient Notes

We’re constantly buying new soba packages to try. While none of the dried packages can match the quality of soba from a famous soba-ya in Japan, all of them have been good-to-great. The secret is in knowing what to get.

I like to look for soba that is either 100% buckwheat, or buckwheat with a little flour and salt. The 100% buckwheat can be a little hit or miss and is often hard to find, but when it’s good it’s great. The ones with only buckwheat, flour, and salt are really dependable and that’s what I’d recommend you look for (the white package in this photo is upside down).

10 minute zaru soba with crispy salmon and quick pickled radishes recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

The dipping sauce (tsuyu) is a super simple one of only dashi and soy sauce. You can (and people do) go way crazier with tsuyu recipes, but I find simple is best. I recommend instant dashi but if you are inclined, all you need to make a wonderful homemade dashi is a small square of kombu and high quality bonito flakes. We ran out of instant dashi so that’s actually what I ended up doing. Just bring 2 cups of water to a boil, take it off the heat, and add 1 cup bonito flakes and a 5×5 square of kombu for some fantastic homemade dashi. But to reiterate: instant dashi can be amazing.

10 minute zaru soba with crispy salmon and quick pickled radishes recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Finally, I used watermelon radishes in this recipe but don’t go nuts looking for them, any radish or root vegetable will taste amazing.

What do you need?

A nonstick skillet, a pot to boil soba in, and a colander of some sort. I really prefer a pasta scooper to get the soba out. A bamboo noodle plate isn’t needed but sure looks cool.

Garnish

Garnishing with sliced green onions, strips of seaweed, and wasabi make all the difference when it comes to soba. You can buy seaweed precut in most Japanese supermarkets, or just cut it yourself with kitchen shears. Wasabi is best in powder form (unless you’re crazy enough to buy a wasabi root) and mixed roughly 1:1 with cold water.

10 minute zaru soba with crispy salmon and quick pickled radishes recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

10 minute zaru soba with crispy salmon and quick pickled radishes recipe
Serves 2


  • 1 large watermelon radish, cubed or sliced
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound salmon fillet, cut in two.
  • 6-8oz soba
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or to taste)
  • 2 cups instant dashi

1. Prepare your garnishes and toppings. Season your salmon with salt and pepper on both sides and set aside, skin side up.
10 minute zaru soba with crispy salmon and quick pickled radishes recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

2. Make the radish pickle by combining radishes with rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and 1/4 cup cold water. Set aside.
10 minute zaru soba with crispy salmon and quick pickled radishes recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

3. Bring a large pot of unsalted water to the boil. At the same time on a second burner, heat up some oil in a nonstick skillet until it is just about smoking.
10 minute zaru soba with crispy salmon and quick pickled radishes recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

4. While you are waiting for the water and skillet to heat, make your dipping sauce/dressing with soy sauce and dashi. For instant dashi, use 2 cups very hot tap water. See note above for from-scratch dashi.
10 minute zaru soba with crispy salmon and quick pickled radishes recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

5. When the water comes to a solid rolling boil, cook your soba according to the package time.
10 minute zaru soba with crispy salmon and quick pickled radishes recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

6. Once hot, remove the skillet from the heat and lay your salmon skin side down and reduce the heat to medium-low or low. Cook the salmon for 5 minutes skin side down. or until the flesh is just about opaque halfway way through, then flip and cook for another minute. Transfer to plate.
10 minute zaru soba with crispy salmon and quick pickled radishes recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

7. When your soba is done, rinse in cold water.
10 minute zaru soba with crispy salmon and quick pickled radishes recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

8. Plate everything and serve. If you are going for a single bowl presentation, spoon a little dressing over the soba before serving. If going Japanese style, save the soba water to serve after the meal.
10 minute zaru soba with crispy salmon and quick pickled radishes recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Welcome to Dinner & Chill, a new series focusing on quick & easy weeknight dinners with easy to find ingredients, no special equipment, low prep, and low effort. Less shopping, less chopping, less mopping, more eating.

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