Zaru udon is a perfect way to cool off and refresh for any season or as a break from heavy meals. Learn how to make this classic Japanese noodle dish!
With its chewy noodles and savory dipping sauce, zaru udon provides a unique culinary experience that many people enjoy. Whether you are a fan of Japanese cuisine or just looking for a light and tasty meal, it's a great option!
- This recipe is for you if:
- You love Japanese udon noodles.
- You want to make simple udon noodle dish.
- You are looking for zaru udon recipe.
Let me walk you through the ingredients and the instructions. If you want to check the recipe, jump to the recipe. Let's get started!
About this recipe
- A refreshing cold udon noodle dish
- Japanese ingredients explained
- How to serve and how to eat
- Condiments variations
What is Zaru Udon?
Zaru udon is a popular cold udon noodle dish in Japanese cuisine. The udon noodles are on a bamboo strainer (or bamboo draining basket) called zaru, with a dipping sauce on the side and served with various condiments.
The dish is a refreshing and simple meal that is perfect for warm weather, and it is often enjoyed as a light lunch.
By the way, another popular dish, zaru soba, is prepared similarly to zaru udon. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour and have a nutty flavor and slightly gritty texture.
Using soba noodles instead of udon noodles gives the dish a unique flavor and texture, making it a popular alternative for those who prefer the nutty taste of soba.
Here are the ingredients (amounts are in the recipe card below).
- Udon noodles: Dried, fresh, or frozen udon noodles are available at grocery stores. I use frozen udon noodles in this recipe.
- Mentsuyu: It's a multipurpose noodle soup base with a savory flavor made from dashi broth (Japanese soup stock), mirin, and soy sauce. I use store-bought one in this recipe.
- Condiments: Green onions (or scallions, spring onions, and chives) and ginger.
See more details for each in the following.
Udon noodles, the classic Japanese noodle made with wheat flour and water, are a staple of Japanese cooking. These thick and white noodles have a chewy texture and can be enjoyed both hot and cold.
You can find it dried, fresh, or frozen udon noodles at a store. Frozen noodles are my go-to - they're handy to stock in the freezer.
Mentsuyu (Noodle soup base)
Mentsuyu is a concentrated soup base used in Japanese cuisine to make various noodle soups, including udon and soba. It is made from a mixture of dashi (soup broth), soy sauce, and mirin (sweet rice wine).
For those short on time, bottle of mentsuyu is an easy way. I always keep one in my fridge as this versatile sauce is perfect for cooking various Japanese dishes. I use store-bought one in this recipe.
The instructions on the bottle will usually specify how much water to add, as the ratio can vary depending on the product.
If you prefer homemade mentsuyu, you can find my recipe below.
As for trying various condiments, that is a great way to customize the flavor of the zaru udon to your liking. Some popular condiments for zaru udon include:
- Green onions - add a fresh taste.
- Grated ginger - adds a zesty and aromatic flavor.
- Daikon oroshi (Grated Japanese radish) - adds a fresh and slightly tangy flavor.
- Wasabi - adds a spicy kick to the sauce.
- Shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice blend) - adds a spicy and slightly smoky flavor.
- Ponzu (citrus-based sauce) - adds a tart and tangy flavor.
- Sesame seeds - add a nutty flavor and added texture.
Feel free to experiment and find the combination that you enjoy the most!
Where to buy Japanese ingredients
If you live in the US, you can find Japanese ingredients in the list below.
- Japanese grocery stores: Mitsuwa marketplace, Marukai
- Asian grocery stores
- Whole foods market
- Health food stores
- Online stores: Instacart, Walmart, Amazon
Let e show you how to make it! Click here to watch the recipe video.
- Chop green onions.
- Grate ginger.
- Cook udon noodles in boiling water.
- Drain and quickly rinse under cold running water.
- Make dipping sauce - dilute mentsuyu with water.
- Put the noodles on a plate.
Serve the condiments and dipping sauce, and enjoy the fresh noodles!
- Mentsuyu - The instructions on the bottle will usually specify how much water to add, as the ratio can vary depending on the product.
- Udon noodle cooking time - typically takes a couple of minutes to cook frozen udon noodles and around 10 minutes or more for fresh or dried udon noodles. The cooking time can vary depending on the type and brand of udon noodles.
Mentsuyu is typically made from katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), which is not suitable for a vegan diet.
However, you can substitute it with dried shiitake mushrooms and kombu seaweed to make a vegan-friendly sauce, which can be a good alternative for those following a vegan diet or who prefer plant-based options.
Click here to find out more about mentsuyu.
How to serve Zaru Udon
When eating at a Japanese restaurant, zaru udon is typically served on a bamboo strainer (zaru), with dipping sauce and condiments on the side.
The bamboo strainer is used to drain any excess water from the noodles and prevent them from becoming soggy. It helps to keep the udon noodles firm and chewy, allowing you to enjoy their texture and flavor to the fullest.
Additionally, the strainer adds a traditional touch to the dish's presentation, making it an attractive and appealing option for serving. (The strainer in the photo is made of plastic, not bamboo.)
How to eat Zaru Udon
To enjoy zaru udon, dip the noodles into the sauce and eat them with chopsticks. Some people like to slurp the noodles for added flavor and to show appreciation for the dish (It's ok to slurp noodles in Japanese culture).
People like to add condiments to the dipping sauce to adjust the flavor to their liking. Whether to add them little by little or all at once is a matter of personal preference.
Variety of Japanese udon noodle recipes
There are many udon recipes that you can try from chilled udon noodles to hot soup. Find more below and enjoy these chewy noodles!
Thanks For Stopping By
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Also, feel free to leave comments if you have any questions. I love hearing from you!
Chef JA Cooks is a Japanese food blog that shares simple and healthy Japanese home cooking recipes, including vegan and vegetarian. From traditional Japanese recipes to modern recipes with step-by-step instructions.
More Udon Recipes You Might Like
- Kake Udon (Japanese Udon Noodle Soup)
- Yaki udon
- Cold Udon Noodles with Vegetables
- Natto udon noodles
- Soba Noodle Salad
Zaru Udon (Japanese Cold Udon Noodles)Print Pin Rate
- 1 Medium saucepan 18 cm / 7 inches
- 1 Strainer
- 2 packs Udon noodles, about 360g
- 100 ml Mentsuyu
- 100 ml Water
- 1 inch Green onions, 2.5cm, chop
- 1 tablespoon Ginger, grate
- Prepare condiments: Chop green onions, grate ginger and serve on a small plate.
- Cook udon noodles: Boil plenty of water (not in the ingredients list) in a medium saucepan, add udon noodles, and cook according to the package instructions. Stir the noodles with chopsticks to separate them while cooking.
- Drain the noodles: Drain using a strainer and quickly rinse under cold running water to remove the extra starch.
- Dipping sauce: Combin mentsuyu and water in a measuring jar and pour into a serving bowl.
- Serve: Place a bamboo strainer on a plate, put drained udon noodles, and serve with dipping sauce and condiments.
- Udon noodle cooking time - a couple of minutes for frozen ones. 10 minutes or more for fresh and dried ones.
- For mentsuyu, follow the instruction on the bottle. How much water to add depends on the product.
Cold udon noodles remind me summer is on its way! I used to order Zaru Udon at a restaurant near my old home and loved it. Thank you for reminding me of this light and refreshing dish - simple is often the best, isn't it?
You are very welcome, Barbara! Yeah, I love a simple dish like this!