Recipe: Zaru udon (chilled udon noodles and dipping sauce)

Before I lived out there, the only time I’d ever spent in Japan was during the summer holidays. The temperature was unfailingly sweaty – about 32 degrees with humidity that you had to wade through. In a traditional Japanese house where the nearest air conditioning is at the local supermarket, by gum do you suffer.

So, zaru soba or zaru udon made for happy times – hugely refreshing when you collapse into an airconditioning restaurant when you’ve been glugging Pocari Sweat around the city all day. Chilled noodles, dipped in cold tsuyu with the addition of wasabi, bonito flakes and maybe a bit of ginger – amazing. (look, I know it’s not sunny anymore but HEY).

This is a simplified way of making the tsuyu – it works just as well as more complicated methods. Best prepare the tsuyu at least a couple of hours ahead so that it can chill properly – once done, it can keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Zaru udon


For the tsuyu:

125ml light soy sauce

125ml mirin

2 x tbsp sake

900ml dashi (click here for how to make from scratch)

For the rest:

2 packs fresh udon noodles

2 spring onions, finely chopped


1 tsp grated ginger

Handful bonito flakes


  1. Add the soy sauce and mirin to a small saucepan – bring to a boil and lower the heat immediately
  2. Add the sake and dashi – bring back to the boil and switch off. Cool and then chill in the fridge
  3. Cook the noodles as per the packet
  4. Rinse under cold water until chilled through
  5. Serve the drained noodles with the tsuyu to dip in and all the trimmings, adding wasabi to your bowl of tsuyu as you like

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