Zaru soba is a tangy, refreshing dish of cold buckwheat noodles served with a savory dashi and soy-based dipping broth. It’s sometimes served with tempura, but when the weather is warm, fried foods seem a bit heavy. I’ve paired my noodles with grilled venison skewers for a delicious dinner that makes for easy-to-eat leftovers, too.
Total Time: 1.5 hours
Prep time: 1+ hours
Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people (8-12 skewers, 4 bowls of noodles with ¼ cup broth)
For the Skewers
- Flat Cedar Skewers
- 1.5-2 pounds cubed venison steak
- 1 head of garlic
- 2 bunches of green onions
- 12 crimini mushrooms
- Shichimi togarashi, also called Japanese Seven Spice
For the Marinade
- ½ cup low sodium Soy Sauce
- 4 Garlic cloves, smashed
- ¼ cup Mirin
- 1 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 tsp fresh ground Ginger
- 1 tsp Rice Vinegar
- ½ cup cold Water
For the Noodles and Broth
- 1 packet of Soba Noodles
- ¾ cup light Stock: Turkey, Whitetail, or Chicken
- 2 Tbsp Ponzu
- 1 Tbsp low sodium Soy Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Mirin
- 1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
Shishito peppers become available through farmers markets in summertime. If you can find them, blister them and add them to your skewers for a flavor boost and a little more heat.
- Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a large non-reactive (e.g., Pyrex) bowl. Add the thawed, cubed meat. Marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour.
- Follow the directions on the packet to cook your soba noodles. Remove from pot, drain, and cool.
- In a stock pot, combine the stock, ponzu, soy sauce, mirin, and rice vinegar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, swirl gently, and pour into a heat-safe bowl. Place in refrigerator to cool.
- While the other components are marinating and cooling, prepare your skewers by soaking them in cold water, and prepare your veggies.
- Peel 6 garlic cloves and cut them in half. Separate the firm, lighter portions of the green onions from the softer green tops. Cut the white end portions in half; save the greens for negimaki! Remove the stems from your mushrooms. Leave smaller caps whole, and quarter larger caps.
- Remove the skewers from the water and take the marinating meat out of the fridge. Start up your pellet grill, which should be filled with Wildwood’s Smoking Pellet
Blend, and set it to “high” (for me, that’s roughly 425°F). If you don’t have a pellet grill, Hickory Planks over slightly lower heat would work well, too.
- Prep your skewers, alternating pieces of meat with pieces of veggies.
- Set the skewers on the grill. Cook until a thermometer shows the internal temperature of the meat is about 100°F, then flip each skewer over. Remove the skewers from the grill when the internal temperature has reached 120°F-125°F and let rest.
- When you’re ready to eat, dust the skewers with the togarashi seasoning to taste. Bring the noodles out of the fridge, and plate them.
- To eat the noodles, dip them in the broth using chopsticks or a fork. Because the broth is salty and savory, you don’t need to soak them in it. Alternate bites between the cooling, savory noodles and the warm, spicy skewers for maximum enjoyment.
*Keep a spray bottle of water handy in case of flare-ups.