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Sunday 7 March 2010

** Japanese Recipe** Soba Noodles with Japanese Pesto (Kawari Soba)

Soba Noodles with Japanese Pesto - Kawari Soba

This recipe might shock some of the purists amongst you, but luckily I could hardly describe myself as one, so I had a go at this unusual recipe and was delighted with the results.

It reflects my own ethnic and culinary heritage - Japanese and Italian cooking in one simple dish. To enjoy this recipe you will need to love Japanese perilla, most commonly known as "shiso". It looks similar to the Vietnamese variety but with a stronger flavour and characteristic aroma.

I make Italian pesto at home in large quantities as it freezes incredibly well, is significantly cheaper than buying fresh from the local deli, and tastes far superior to its jar/supermarket equivalent. This was the first time I dry-fried the pine kernels which gave this pesto variation a rather toasty flavour.


• 400g of Soba noodles (buckwheat)
• 30 green shiso leaves (can be purchased at Atariya, Fuji Foods, or Japan Centre)
• 100g of rocket leaves
• 40g pine kernels (roasted)
• 1 garlic clove crushed
• 100ml extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons brown miso paste
• Black sesame seeds for garnishing (optional)


1. Making the pesto: reserve a few shiso and rocket leaves for garnish. Tear the remaining leaves into pieces and blend them with all other ingredients (apart from the Soba noodles!) in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to an air tight container until required.

2. Cooking the noodles: in a large pan, boil a large quantity of salted water, and cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet (normally around 5 mins only). Drain in a colander and rinse with freshly boiled water to remove the extra starchiness of the soba noodles.

3. Toss the noodles in the Japanese pesto and garnish with the reserved shiso and rocket leaves, and black sesame seeds if using. Serve immediately.

4. Enjoy!

This is a delicious dish that will take you only a few minutes to prepare, and is ideal as a midweek treat or as a starter for an informal Japanese meal. This recipe will serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main.

Note: Soba noodles, normally light brown, can also be purchased as "Cha-Soba" which are flavoured with green tea powder (matcha) and are green in colour.


  1. can't possibly imagine shiso with rocket...or rocket with miso...truly fusion!

  2. It's on the menu Luiz.

  3. @ Noodle Capricciosa - give it a try, you will love it I think!

    @ Kroocrew - enjoy! Feel free to post this at your great site Edibly Asia.

  4. Good to see a noodle recipe kicking off what I hope is the first of many recipes.

  5. Yes, as much as we love your restaurant reviews, recipes as simple and delicious as this will always be welcome.

  6. @ Mr Noodles - oh, thanks, I posted a few other recipes before (last year) but not nearly as frequently as I should.

    @ Anonymous - wow that is a very kind message, thank you! It is a shame that I seem to cook less and less since I started my blog which is a shame as I love cooking. I decided this year that I will start posting more recipes to try and help me cook more at home.

  7. So you did ! I guess it took a noodle recipe to grab my attention !

  8. Ooo - i like the idea of this. I can add an East Asian pesto to my Italian and Coriander pesto recipes, excellent.

    Where would be the best place to get hold of shiso leaves?

  9. @ Mr Noodles - I know some yummy Japanese noodle recipes I will be trying. Do the Chinese eat cold noodles like the Japanese and Koreans? One of my favourite noodle dishes is "Zaru Soba" which is served chilled and with no seasoning (apart from the concentrated dashi broth to dip it in). Watch this space!

    @ Grubworm - Hi Aaron, I normally buy shiso at Fuji Foods in Crouch End or if i am in town I go to Japan Centre or Arigato on Brewer Street. There is also Atariya, they are the best Japanese fishmongers in London (they supply fish to the likes of Nobu), and they also sell shiso, they are in Acton, Kingston, Finchley and Golders Green. As mentioned, shiso has a very particular flavour, and you ought to enjoy that to appreciate this pesto, but I hope you will!

  10. ciao Luiz, mi ha Sembra una ricetta innovativa molto allettante, io l'assaggerei molto volentieri.Bravo Luiz. ciao Cinzia (Firenze)

  11. @thelondofoodie - ta for the pointers, i'm still new to cooking with Japanese food so i only really know the Centrepoint food store and the Japan Centre - i had no idea about the rest. I will have to check out the fishmongers - is there a website?

    The recipe is bookmarked so when i make it, I'll let you know how it goes.

  12. @ Cinzia- ciao cara, certamente, grazie mille! Ci vediamo domenica sera. Un baccione.

    @ Grubworm - Atariya has a site (http://www.atariya.co.uk/) with addresses for all branches and opening hours. If you make to Atariya, I would recommend buying their black cod marinated in miso, it only takes a few minutes under the grill and it tastes fantastic.

  13. In the words of Peter Andre "INSANIA"!! I am very intrigued by this...and your predeliction for rough vodka. Seriously though, I bet it's well lovely.

  14. He, he, he... in my defence I would say - "never a right or wrong answer when it comes matters of taste"! I knew this recipe would raise a few eyebrows, but I assure you it is totally DELISH!


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