Cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey calls zaru soba -- cold buckwheat noodles -- "one of the joys of a Japanese summer". I love her description of slurping icy soba noodles on a shady bridge over a mountain stream in Kyoto.
Jaffrey's recipe for zaru soba and homemade dipping sauce (made from shiitake mushroom broth, soy sauce and mirin) appears in her breathtakingly good book World Vegetarian.Traditionally, the cool buckwheat noodles are scattered with bits of nori seaweed and served with a bowl of sauce on the side. Diners season the dipping sauce with wasabi, daikon, etc., and the noodles are dipped and eaten. For the lunch box I put the sauce in a tiny container and shmoo poured it over the noodles instead.
On the side are edamame and daikon namasu (chilled giant radish and carrot salad), a recipe from Japanese Vegetarian Cooking.For dessert, an Asian pear.
Oh, and gluten-free readers take note: although I used noodles made from wheat and buckwheat, I noticed that Eden Foods makes gluten-free buckwheat noodles.
Verdict: Shmoo wasn't too keen on the daikon (don't listen to him, the salad was fantastic -- the best daikon dish I've ever eaten). Shmoo loves these noodles so much he wants to know if we'll take him to Japan for his birthday. Um, I'm afraid that's a little over our birthday budget for this year. But I can make more zaru soba! 5 stars.