Chilled Soba with Soft Tofu and Soy-Sesame Sauce

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

An ideal dish for a hot day, these noodles and tofu are cool, light, and refreshing. The sauce can also be used for tofu, either cooked or raw, without the noodles. Adding a tablespoon of peanut butter or tahini makes it a little more substantial, and adding ½ teaspoon of chile oil makes it a little more piquant. For tofu, I especially like the water-packed soft and silken tofu, such as that made by Azumaya.

Makes4 appetizers or 2 to 3 main dishes



Total Timeunder 30 minutes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursecold appetizer, main course

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Texturechewy, hot & spicy, salty, umami


  • One 8-ounce package soba (buckwheat noodles)
  • 1 bunch slender scallions, including a few inches of the greens, thinly sliced
  • 1½ tablespoons white or black sesame seeds
  • 1 carton fresh soft tofu or 2 boxes firm silken tofu
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce, such as Kikkoman or thin Chinese soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced ginger


  1. Cook the noodles in boiling water until tender but still retain a bite, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Shake off the excess water. (If you’re cooking them ahead of time, refrigerate.) Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, then transfer to a dish and set aside. Carefully open the tofu and turn it onto a cutting board to drain while you make the sauce.

  2. Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl. Taste to make sure the balance is the way you like it. It may seem salty, but remember that it’s going on tofu.

  3. Toss the noodles with half the scallions and sesame seeds, then divide among four plates. Make a little depression in the center. Dice the tofu into ½ inch cubes and set them in the center of the noodles. Spoon the sauce over the tofu and the noodles, then sprinkle with the remaining scallions and sesame seeds. Serve.

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