I’ve never met a noodle dish I didn’t like, but these are some of my favorites. Toshikoshi Soba are a traditional Japanese dish for New Years. The long noodles symbolize longevity, and the fact that buckwheat noodles (which are gluten free and therefore fragile) are easily cut is a reminder to cut loose your troubles from the previous year and begin anew. Toshikoshi Soba features soba noodles in a deeply savory broth. If your New Years feast has lots of different dishes, you can keep it just that simple. Or you can garnish it with all manners of toppings and make a complete meal out of a filling noodle bowl. So if you’re ready to cut loose your troubles from 2021, let’s get started.
The broth for Toshikoshi Soba is quintessentially Japanese. Made with common pantry items in every Japanese home, it tastes like it simmered for hours but comes together much faster. Most of the time involved is soaking time for the kombu. The kombu brings a clean taste of the ocean. Then we have katsuobushi for a lingering hint of smoke, while sake, mirin, and soy sauce add their characteristic sweet and salty umami umami depth. (In the recipe’s notes I give you a way to make the broth even faster!)
I start making the toshikoshi broth by soaking a piece of kombu in water, for at least an hour. The longer it soaks, the more flavor the broth will develop. Then I bring the kombu and its soaking water to a simmer in a sauce pan. As soon as the water simmers, it’s time to add the bonito flakes. You do not want to continue simmering as the kombu will start to turn slimy if agitated in boiling water. Also, the low heat keeps the broth crystal clear.
Then I add the mirin, soy sauce, sake and seasonings to the stock. I bring it to a simmer, remove from the heat, and set aside covered until ready to use.
Toshikoshi Soba Toppings
While soba noodles are totally delicious topped with the broth alone, I like to add some toppings to mine to add some variety and contrast. Poached eggs, wakame, scallions, and fried tofu turn it into a complete meal, with lots of textures and flavors. The wakame just needs to be bloomed in water for 10 minutes. I use a seasoned fried tofu that comes in a can. All of these can be set out so guests can top their own toshikoshi soba with anything they want.
Poaching the eggs takes just a couple minutes. I put the water on to boil for the soba while I’m poaching the eggs. Poaching eggs is very simple but the key is to keep the water at a gentle simmer and to add a little vinegar to encourage the whites to set with an even shape. The last tip is to stir the water before gently dropping in the egg. This ensures that the egg doesn’t adhere to the bottom of the pan and stays floating in the center. The process only takes a minute or two so I would advise you to only do one egg at a time so they all come out perfectly.
Slurping down these noodles is my favorite way to ring in the new year, and I hope you love them too. Let me know what you think by rating and commenting on the recipe, and tag me in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
- 7 oz dried soba noodles (buckwheat noodles)
For Soup Broth:
- 3 cups water
- 1 piece dried kombu kelp (4 inch x 4 inch piece, about the size of your hand)
- 1 cup katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
- 1 Tablespoon sake
- 3 Tablespoon mirin
- 3 Tablespoon soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
Additional Toppings (all are optional):
- 2 teaspoons dried wakame seaweed
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar (to poach eggs)
- 2 pieces of canned seasoned fried tofu
- shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice chili blend)
- Soak the kombu in 3 cups of water for at least 1 hour or up to overnight if possible.
- Add the kombu and kombu water in a medium saucepan. Slowly bring it to a simmer over medium heat.
- Add the katsuobushi and stir. Then turn off the heat and let the katsuobushi steep for about 20 minutes (it will sink to the bottom of the pan).
- Drain the stock into another saucepan, pressing down on the katsuobushi to extract all of the stock. Either discard the katsuobushi or find another use, such as serving it to your pets (my dog mina loves it sprinkled on her food).
- Add the sake, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and salt to the stock. Bring it to a simmer over high heat and then set aside covered with a lid until ready to use.
Prepare the toppings:
- Rehydrate wakame seaweed in ½ cup of water for 10 minutes. Then squeeze the water out and set aside.
- Thinly slice the green onion and set aside.
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil over high heat in a small saucepan. Crack the eggs into 2 separate small bowls. Lower the heat to medium, add the vinegar, and stir the water with a spoon. Then as the water is moving, pour the egg gently into the saucepan. Stir the water gently for a couple seconds to keep the egg from touching the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, depending on how you like your egg done. Scoop the eggs out with a slotted spoon. Repeat with the other egg and set aside.
- In a pot of boiling water, cook soba noodles according to the package instructions.
- Drain the soba noodles and rinse them under running water to get rid of the excess starch. Transfer the noodles to individual bowls.
- Bring the broth to a simmer over high heat. Pour the broth over the soba noodles and top with egg, wakame seaweed, seasoned fried bean curd, and green onions.
- Serve toshikoshi soba hot with shichimi pepper blend on the side.
*I often make a quick and easy stock without going through the hassle of making one from scratch. (This may also be helpful if you don’t have any katsuobushi or kombu on hand). Instead of using the katsuobushi and the kelp, add 2 teaspoons of dashi powder to a saucepan along with the water, soy sauce, sake, mirin, and salt. Bring to a simmer, set aside, and then proceed with the rest of the recipe.
*You can also purchase ready made concentrated soup stock called Mentsuyu (or Tsuyu) in most Asian stores. The dilution ratio is on the package instructions. Dilute it with water and bring to a simmer to use.
Keywords: holiday, new years, noodles, soba, japanese