Last Updated on June 3, 2023
Vegan Soba Tsuyu Broth is a kombu dashi based vegan alternative to traditional soba noodle broth for making Japanese soba noodle soup. It’s 100% vegan, umami-rich kombu (kelp) dashi based, sweet & savory, with no high fructose corn syrup and/or any other unwanted additives. The result is a very clean yet super flavorful vegan soba tsuyu broth that you want to make all the time. Also, it’s easy to adjust to your taste preference.
What’s Soba Tsuyu?
Soba tsuyu is a Japanese word which consists of the words “soba [そば]” means soba noodles and “tsuyu [つゆ]” means broth (soup) or sauce.
Soba tsuyu can mean two different types:
- Kake-tsuyu (hot broth for hot soba noodles)
- Tsuke-tsuyu (cold dipping sauce for cold soba noodles)
This vegan soba tsuyu broth is the kake-tsuyu type which is for making hot vegan soba noodle soup!
Whether for the hot or cold soba noodles, the traditional soba tsuyu is made with bonito flakes & kombu based dashi therefore it’s not vegan. But you can make great vegan soba tsuyu at home using kombu (kelp) and a few other easy-to-find ingredients. It’s made without bonito flakes and still just as delicious as the traditional one.
Soba tsuyu broth always has a darker color appearance in comparison to udon tsuyu broth which has a lighter color. In Japan, the darker tsuyu broth like soba tsuyu is typically referred as “kanto-sytle [関東風]” and the lighter one like udon tsuyu is referred as “kansai-style [関西風].” They both have a completely different flavor profile. Also, each broth is preferred over the other depending on the regions of the country.
Taste of Soba Tsuyu Broth
As mentioned, soba tsuyu (kanto-style noodle broth) is more popular in kanto region. Kanto region is located in the eastern part of the main island of Japan. Geographically, it includes prefectures of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Gunma, Tochigi and Ibaraki. In this region, soba noodles used to be popular back in the days especially in the style of cold soba with dipping sauce.
Generally speaking, soba tsuyu has a bold flavor. In other words, the taste of soy sauce is apparent and the sweetness from mirin and sugar is dominant. In fact, the darker color, soy sauce based, bold, sweet & savory flavors are the iconic appearance & taste in the food from kanto region. Soba tsuyu broth is definitely one of them.
Vegan Soba Tsuyu Broth
This vegan soba tsuyu broth has the same flavor profile as the traditional one.
- savory (from soy sauce)
- sweet (from mirin and sugar)
- umami rich (from kombu)
Actually, I’m originally from the kanto region. However, I grew up in the family from the kansai region (western part of the main island of Japan.) So, in my household, we’d prefer the complete opposite of the kanto-style flavor. Still to this day, I prefer lighter color tsuyu broth with udon noodles. But once in a while I crave this sweet & savory dark soba tsuyu broth with soba noodles.
But in my opinion, the taste of soba broth may appeal more to non-Japanese people’s palate. Peter, my non-Japanese husband, thinks so, too!
What’s good about making this vegan soba tsuyu broth is that you can easily adjust the saltiness and/or sweetness to your taste.
For example, I always prefer less salty and less sweet while my husband likes saltier and sweeter. So, I use a little more soy sauce, mirin and sugar than my personal preference to make it more enjoyable for him.
Why Make Your Own?
There are many reasons you want to prepare your own soba tsuyu broth.
- It’s 100 % vegan
- You can control the quality of ingredients
- The recipe is authentic minus the use of bonito flakes
- No chemicals & additives
When you see soba tsuyu base products in grocery stores, 10 out of 10, it’s not vegan. What makes it worse is the list of ingredients on those products. Often times, it contains high fructose corn syrup and other flavor additives or chemicals in it.
On the other hand, my recipe is made with real kombu (kelp) with other short list of ingredients; water, soy sauce, mirin and sugar. You won’t believe how easy it is to make authentic soba tsuyu broth in vegan style!
How to Serve
Vegan soba tsuyu broth is suitable for making hot vegan soba noodle soup. All you have to do is to cook soba of your choice separately then pour the vegan soba tsuyu broth over the cooked noodles!
Soba tsuyu broth is sweet which complements well with the earthy and somewhat nutty taste of soba noodles.
Vegan Soba Tsuyu Broth
- Place the prepared kombu dashi in a sauce pan. Cover it and cook at medium high heat until a gentle boil.
- Once the kombu dashi is at a gentle boil, reduce the heat to medium. Add in soy sauce, mirin and sugar. Continue to cook for 1-2 minutes (uncovered) until the mirin’s alcohol is evaporated and the sugar is completely dissolved. Adjust the heat as necessary.
- Serve the broth over your favorite soba noodles.
- It’s easy to use my Cold Brew Kombu Dashi recipe as a base to make this vegan soba tsuyu broth.
- If using my Simmered Kombu Dashi, start with 1100 ml water / 37 fl oz purified water and 11 g / 0.4 oz kombu which should make about 960-1000 ml/32-34 fl oz (4 to 4 1/4 cups) kombu dashi that you can use for this recipe.
- The cold brew one is super easy to make but takes 8-10 hours (or overnight) soaking. On the other hand, the simmered one takes only about 1 hour (5 minutes prepping, 30 minutes soaking and 25 minutes cooking.)
- For the savory flavor and rich dark color with a touch of umami.
- Use Japanese soy sauce for the authentic taste. I use Organic Soy Sauce from Gold Mine Natural Foods.
- Mirin is Japanese sweet cooking rice wine which adds the natural sweetness and depth to the flavor.
- Use high quality mirin with no high fructose corn syrup. I use Organic Genuine Mirin from from Gold Mine Natural Foods.
- Use real sugar. Other sugar substitutes won't taste the same. I use organic cane sugar.
- The basic formula that you can use to make vegan soba tsuyu broth is 10-parts dashi, 1-part soy sauce, 1-part mirin, 1/3 part-sugar.
- The best way to measure the volume is using a scale for accuracy.
- You can adjust the amount of soy sauce, mirin and sugar to your preference.
- The default Vegan Soba Tsuyu Broth recipe yields enough for 3 servings of hot soba noodle soup (about 1000 ml.)
- 1 serving of vegan soba tsuyu broth is about 300-330 ml/10-11 fl oz.
How to Store
- You can store the leftover in a container with a lid and keep in the fridge for 2-3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 weeks for the best flavor.
- Frozen soba vegan tsuyu broth can be thawed in the fridge for 36-48 hours or at a room temperature for a shorter time.
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