A recipe for Toshikoshi Soba (Japanese New Year Soba)! Soba noodles are served in a seasoned broth and topped with favorite additions for the New Year.
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Toshikoshi Soba is a comforting noodle soup often eaten in Japan on New Year’s Eve. Translating to year-crossing noodles, this recipe can be basic with simply soba noodles in broth with a sprinkling of green onion or a variety of toppings can be added due to personal taste. In hot climates, yo can even serve the noodles cold like in this Kurumi Soba (Soba with Walnut Dipping Sauce).
One of my favorite ways to eat the soba is in a dashi-based broth with shrimp tempura, kamaboko (fish cake), thinly sliced green onions, and a pinch of shichimi togarashi (seven spice powder). Other possible toppings include leafy greens, tenkasu (another favorite- tempura crumbs), Wakame, shredded nori, and/or raw egg (Disclaimer: Consuming raw eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness, particularly with certain medical conditions. Make sure the broth is hot to lightly cook the egg).
Want to learn more about Japanese New Year traditions and the history of Toshikoshi Soba? Check out Just Hungry.
While this is a basic recipe with just a few ingredients, those items may be difficult to find for some. Soba are long, thin buckwheat-based noodles. They are becoming more and more available in the Asian section of many larger grocery stores and markets with Japanese ingredients. They can also be found on Amazon: Hakubaku Organic Soba Noodles.
Dashi is a stock used in Japanese cooking. It is made from kombu (dried Japanese kelp) and katsuobushi (bonito/tuna flakes). I have included instructions on how to make your own dashi stock with kombu and katsuobushi. Use only the kombu for a vegan/vegetarian option. The dashi takes a little bit of time to prepare, but it can be made up to 5 days in advance and refrigerated until needed.
Usukuchi soy sauce is a light and pale mild Japanese soy sauce used to season soups. It is sometimes labelled as light soy sauce. Do not confuse it with “lite” soy sauce in supermarkets. Those are just lighter in sodium. Usukuchi soy sauce is actually higher in sodium than the more common soy sauce. It is available at many Asian food markets. If you cannot find it, use regular soy sauce in a pinch; just add about half the amount and season with salt.
Mirin is a sweet Japanese cooking rice wine. I use hon-mirin (true mirin) in recipes calling for mirin. I have been able to find it in Asian food markets and Whole Foods. Many grocery stores have aji-mirin, but be sure to check the ingredient list for additives. Other types of mirin are shio-mirin (includes salt) and shin-mirin (very little alcohol).
Kamaboko (fish cake) is a type of cured surimi. Processed white fish is formed into a loaf shape and steamed until firm. It can be found in the refrigerated section of Asian markets featuring Japanese ingredients. If you are looking for different ways to use it, check out the beautiful designs made by Nami of Just One Cookbook.
Shichimi Togarashi (completely optional) is a seven spice seasoning blend with red pepper, citrus peel, sesame seeds, ginger, and seaweed. It can occasionally be found in the spice section of larger grocery stores, markets with Japanese ingredients, or on Amazon: Shichimi Togarashi.
Looking for more Japanese soups?
- Chikara Udon (Japanese Power Udon)
- Niku Udon (Japanese Meat Udon)
- Gyoza Nabe (Japanese Dumpling Hot Pot)
Toshikoshi Soba (Japanese New Year Soba) Recipe
Adapted from La Fuji Mama
Toshikoshi Soba (Japanese New Year Soba)
- 5 cups (1 liter) water
- 1 piece (6 inch, 15 cm) kombu
- 1.4 ounces (40 grams) katsuobushi dried, shaved bonito
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) usukuchi soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) mirin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 9 ounces (255 grams) fresh or dried soba (buckwheat noodles)
- 8 slices Kamaboko fish cakes
- 4 green onions thinly sliced
- Shrimp tempura
- Shichimi togarashi
To make the dashi base:
- In a large pot, combine the 5 cups water and kombu. Allow to sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove the kombu pieces and add another 2 tablespoons cold water. Stir in the bonito flakes until just combined. Once boiling, reduce to low heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Skim off any foam that develops on the surface. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a large bowl. DO NOT squeeze the excess liquid from the bonito before discarding.
- Return strained dashi (water cooked with kombu and bonito) to cleaned large pot over high heat. Stir in the usukuchi soy sauce, mirin, and salt. Once boiling, reduce heat to low until ready to serve.
To assemble the soup:
- In a large pot, bring water to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and add the soba. Cook until just tender, about 4 minutes for dried soba and 2 for fresh. Drain, rinse in cold water, and divide among 2-4 bowls. Pour the hot broth over the noodles and top each bowl with desired toppings. Serve immediately.