Shippoku Soba is hot soba noodle dish with various toppings. It is often on the menu at Soba noodle restaurants in Japan, but not seen as much at Japanese restaurants in the US, since it is a more regional Japanese food. Shippoku Soba can be eaten at any time of the year, but you can try it as Toshikoshi Soba which is the famous noodle dish for the end of the year in Japan.
The name “Shippoku” comes from Shippoku Ryori, Japanese style Chinese food which got popular in Nagasaki, Kyusyu around 1700s. Shippoku soba today is not nothing to do with Chinese food, but the origin of Shippoku Soba looks somewhat similar to modern Shippoku Soba. In Shippoku Ryori, noodles are presented with a lot of meat and vegetables on top in a large plate. Original Shippoku noodle is more likely to be Udon (or Udon like noodles) rather than Soba. As the dish was migrated to rest of the country over time, especially western part of Japan such as Kyoto where Soba is often considered more desireble, it’s changed its ingredients.
Toshikoshi Soba is the food a lot of people in Japan eat in the mid night turning to a new year. Because Soba has long skinny shape, it symbolizes longevity of life. Also because Soba is soft and easy to cut, people hope to cut this year bad luck and inviting better one by eating this noodle dish. People eat it on the 31st of December, traditionally at midnight when it turns to a new year. Because it’s too much to eat at such late night, many people opt to eat it as light dinner, a prologue to the never ending new year feast of Osechi Ryori next day.
Shippoku Soba has different toppings depending on where it is from. However, it often includes Kamaboko (fish cake), Tamagoyaki, Gobo (burdock root), Konnyaku (konjac potato cake), carrot, chicken, Aburaage (fried thin Tofu), and etc. You can mix and match whatever. We used fewer ingredients to be a little simpler. You can start here and add more to suit your taste. You can eat this any time,of course, but if you happen to make it into Toshikoshi Soba, enjoy and have a great new year!
- 1/2 bunch spinach
- 2 squares Aburaage
- 4 slices Kamaboko (fish cake)
- 4 Shiitake mushrooms
- 4 carrots, cut into flowers
- 1 green onion
- 4 cups Ichiban Dashi
- 3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 3 Tbsp Sake
- 3 Tbsp Mirin
- 2 bunch dried Soba
- Blanch spinach in boiling water for a few seconds. Drain water and immediately cool in water, then squeeze out water. Cut into sections 2" long. Cut Aburaage diagonally in half to make triangles. Cut Kamaboko into 1/2" thick slices. Cut the stems of Shiitake mushrooms and make decorative cuts on top if you like. Slice carrots into 1/2" rounds, cut with a flower cookie cutter, and blanch in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Chop green onion finely.
- Warm Ichiban Dashi and season with Soy Sauce, Sake and Mirin. Keep it warm, covered, until used.
- Cook dried Soba noodles according to the package.
- Add Aburaage, Kamaboko, Shiitake and carrot flowers to the hot soup and cook for a minute. Then add Soba and let it simmer for a minute.
- Divide noodles, toppings and soup into bowls, place spinach on top, and sprinkle on the chopped green onion. Add Shichimi if you like.