Whats the Difference: Zaru Soba, Mori Soba & Seiro Soba Noodles?

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Whats the Difference: Zaru Soba, Mori Soba & Seiro Soba Noodles?

When it comes to traditional soba noodles there are three types that are most common in Japan, Zaru Soba, Mori Soba and Seiro Soba though many can you tell them apart. Allow us to explain the difference.

“Zaru Soba (ざるそば)”, “Mori Soba (もりそば)”, and “Seiro Soba (せいろそば)”.

Seiro Soba Compared To Zaru Soba Noodles

Indeed, both Zaru Soba and Seiro Soba are Japanese terms for traditional cooking equipment. Zaru is a concave-shaped bamboo basket, whereas Seiro is a wooden steamer used in both Japanese and Chinese cooking. In general, Zaru Soba refers to the Soba noodles heaped in the bamboo Zaru basket, and Seiro Soba refers to the Soba noodles served in the wooden Seiro steamer.

Mori Soba Compared To Zaru Soba Noodles

According to legend, Soba restaurants originated during the Kanbun period (Kanbun: 1661 to 1673). During the period, people ate buckwheat Soba noodles with a soy sauce-based sauce, similar to how Zaru Soba and Seiro Soba are prepared now. Following that, people began to enjoy Soba noodles with a soy sauce-based broth poured over them, a practice known as “Bukkake”.
By the way, the basic Soba meal served with hot soup is now referred to as Kake Soba.

Since the Bukkake technique became popular and expanded throughout society, the traditional way of eating Soba noodles was dubbed “Mori” to differentiate it from the Bukkake method. Because the name “Mori” means “to heap,” Zaru Soba and Seiro Soba might be considered Mori Soba. However, unlike Mori Soba, Zaru Soba’s buckwheat noodles are always topped with shredded Nori seaweed.

Zaru Soba Noodles

Originally, the names Zaru Soba and Seiro Soba were derived from the cooking implements used to serve Soba noodles. However, in modern Japan, some Soba restaurants refer to the Soba noodles heaped on the Seiro steamer as Zaru Soba, while others refer to the Soba meal prepared with the Zaru basket as “Seiro Soba.”

Zaru Soba Noodles
Zaru Soba Noodles

Mori Soba Noodles

While soba noodles served in bamboo baskets are called Zaru soba, while those served in wooden seiro steamers are called Seiro soba. Mori soba is a hybrid of the two, with one distinction: zaru soba is topped with nori seaweed, but mori soba is not.

Mori Soba Noodles
Mori Soba Noodles

Seiro Soba Noodles

Seiro is the Japanese term for the boxed dish and bamboo mat used to serve chilled soba noodles. Cold soba is frequently served with chicken (tori) or duck (kamo), therefore the name tori seiro.

Seiro Soba Noodles
Seiro Soba Noodles
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