Tensoba (Tempura Soba) is a tasty Japanese noodle dish made from soba noodles and tempura – served both hot and cold. It’s a deliciously comforting dish that works perfectly anytime!
Tempura soba is a Japanese dish that consists of tempura vegetables and noodles in a soy sauce-flavored broth. It’s one of Japan’s most famous noodle dishes! In this blog post, I’ll show you how to make tempura soba from scratch with easy instructions and tasty recipes.
Let’s get started!
Why You Will Love Tempura Soba
Tempura Soba is a delicious Japanese noodle dish that can be both hot and cold so it’s versatile and perfect for any weather! For this recipe, I’m sharing a recipe for the cold version, because it’s a bit too hot over here in Australia to be eating noodles with hot soup. But, if you live in an area that’s heading into winter, you can easily make it hot.
Cold Tenzarusoba usually consists of a plate (zaru) of soba noodles, a plate of assorted tempura, and a dipping pot of soup along with some garnishes. This dish is a basic and simple dish that can be really nicely presented to look much more elegant to serve for dinner to your friends and family!
What Is Tempura Soba?
Tempura soba is a noodle and seafood dish that has lots of nicknames. All the nicknames are different ways of combining the two words. It’s called Zarasoba, Tenzarasoba, or tensoba.
This is a dish of hot tempura shrimp on top of cold soba noodles.
Zarusoba is a common dish during the hotter months in Japan, so you’ll most likely be able to find it at many restaurants during that time. My daughter went to Japan in the summer and said she had really delicious Tensoba in Kyoto at a nice restaurant in the city.
She can’t really handle hot foods so she always prefers the cold versions of everything, especially when it comes to noodles. In Japan, we call people who can’t handle hot foods “Neko-jita”, meaning “cat tongue”, because cats apparently don’t like hot stuff, so her grandpa (my dad) always calls her “Neko-chan” (which is just an endearing way to say cat).
So, if you have a “Neko-jita” like my daughter, then this dish will be perfect for you.
Is Soba Healthy For You?
Soba is actually the healthiest type of noodle as well because it’s made from buckwheat and it’s also low GI! So this dish is pretty healthy…besides the fried tempura. Although, even though the tempura is fried, it is made with prawns and vegetables so this is a pretty well-rounded dish.
I’m just trying to convince myself now that this is healthy so I can justify eating it all after the photos I took!
When Do People Normally Eat And Serve Soba?
Eating soba called “Toshikoshi Soba” on New Year’s Eve is an integral part of traditional Japanese new years celebration. Most people in Japan spend new year’s eve at home with their family watching TV eating Toshikoshi Soba together.
Toshikoshi means to climb over from the old year to the new and also soba is supposed to signify strength and resiliency since the buckwheat plant itself bounces back even after being flattened by wind and rain.
Others focus on the long, thin shape of the noodles, which may signify the wish for a long life. (The Japan Times)
Restaurant Tip For Ordering Tensoba
Just a little tip, if you’re eating Tensoba at a restaurant, don’t pour heaps of the noodles and the tempura into the little soup pot like my daughter does because Japanese people may think you’re a bit weird.
You just grab a bit of noodle and tempura and dip them into the soup and eat it straight away; don’t leave it in the cup! My daughter’s just super lazy so she chucks as much as will fit into the cup…don’t do this.
However, if you make this at home, then eat it however you want! Remember slurping noodle is perfectly OK too.
Ingredients In Tempura Soba
This dish is a combination of tempura and soba noodles. All the exact ingredient amounts are in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post. First, here is some information about the ingredients in each part.
Make tempura by breading your favorite type of seafood – most people bread and fry shrimp (prawns). The breading batter is a combination of flour, water, and Kewpie mayonnaise.
These are the ingredients in my favorite dipping sauce (tentsuyu):
- Dashi Powder
- Soy Sauce
- Grated Daikon
Here is what I used to make my soba noodles:
- Soba Noodles: Buy either dry or frozen noodles from Japanese grocery stores.
- Dipping Sauce (Mentsuyu): Either buy it pre-made from Japanese grocery stores or make your own with Katsuo (bonito flake), kombu kelp, soy sauce, and mirin.
- Condiments: Garnish with green onions, ginger, myoga (Japanese ginger) and wasabi.
- Shredded Nori seaweed: This tastes delicious on top of the noodles.
How To Make Tempura Soba
Both the tempura and the soba noodles come together in a flash! The noodles are so much quicker. Since they are best served cold, I like to make them first and then store them in the refrigerator while I make the tempura.
To make the tempura, just bread your prawn and/or vegetables and then fry them in the oil. After they are deep-fried, let them cool on a plate lined with a paper towel. The paper towel will soak up the extra oil and grease.
Then, add the tempura on top of your chilled noodles. The combination of savory and crunchy tempura on top of cold and salty noodles is so refreshing and delightful!
Before we get to the recipe in the printable recipe card, here are some questions people often ask about tempura soba.
Yes, you can certainly dip the noodles and the tempura into the same dipping sauce. They both taste delicious dipped into your favorite umami-flavored sauce or condiments.
Do not keep tempura in the refrigerator for longer than three days. After that, the texture and taste will decline. The soft meat will make the crispy breading even softer, which isn’t pleasant.
Drain and wrap leftover soba noodles and keep them in your refrigerator. They will only last a few days. If you want to use them in your bento, rinse them really well to get rid of any starchiness.
If you don’t have soba noodles, you can replace them with whole-grain spaghetti, ramen noodles, or rice noodles.
What To Serve With Tempura Soba
This is pretty much an entire meal in one pan! You don’t have to prepare a lot of extra dishes along with it. If you want some extra vegetables, make some okra sauteed with vegetables – it’s a vegan dish and packed with flavor.
You might also really like shungiku goma-ae – is a leafy green Japanese vegetable with a fragrant and bittersweet taste. It will really bring out the savory flavors of the tempura and soba noodles.
Here are a few other of my favorite go-to recipes to serve alongside tempura soba:
If you enjoyed this tempura soba recipe, here are some more seafood and noodle recipes you might want to try next. They are some of my favorites.
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Tensoba (Tempura Soba Recipe)
- 1 cup water
- 1 piece Kombu Kelp *3
- 3 tbsp Soy Sauce
- 3 tbsp Mirin
To Make Tentsuyo:
- Combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl and serve along side the Tensoba. Store any leftovers you may have in the fridge.