Recipe Test: Tuna Soba Bowl

tuna soba bowl

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Lately, I’ve had a few recipes–like this kimchi pork ramen–that I absolutely love, but I don’t feel like they’re ready to go up as a recipe. This tuna soba bowl is one of those recipes. When I tell you this might be one of the best tuna recipes I have ever made, I am not exaggerating. It has a few tweaks that need to be made, namely the variety of tuna that I use.

Anyway, I thought having a section of my blog dedicated to these recipe tests would be a good way to remember to return to the recipes and make them again. I also received a super positive comment from someone who decided to try the kimchi pork ramen recipe–little mistakes and all–so it’s great to hear some early feedback on recipes as they’re in development, too!

The Gist:

Sometimes, I truly do not feel like cooking at all. This was another post-Pilates dinner that I genuinely did not want to make. I stared at my fridge for a good 10 minutes, trying to figure out how I was going to use the last of my scrappy vegetables to make something tasty. I had thawed out a few tuna filets and figured I’d start there.

Eventually, some ingredients started popping out at me: my about-go-bad bok choy, a bell pepper, wrinkly scallions, and half a cucumber. I remembered I had a pack of soba in my pantry that has been on my mind recently, so I thought a tuna soba salad would be great.

What I used

  • Soba: I love cold soba salads. You can use your favorite noodles here, like ramen, udon, or thin rice noodles. I used the brand J-Basket Soba Noodles for my dish, and you can buy them on Amazon!
  • Marinade: The marinade consisted of a few of my go-to’s. I used dashi granules, mirin, white miso, sriracha, honey, and sesame oil. Dashi is one of my favorite ingredients to keep in my pantry. I use the granules for soup, but I especially love them in marinades, like in this dashi-marinated pork ramen!
  • Tuna: This is where I’m kind of annoyed. I bought yellowfin tuna, expecting that iconic seared red tuna look on my noodle bowl—kind of like how the tuna turned out in my tuna in wasabi pea broth recipe. When I pulled the yellowfin tuna out of the freezer, it was much more muted than expected. When I seared it in the skillet, it turned white. The middle was rare and honestly just looked like raw chicken. I asked around, and it seems like I just happened to get a low-quality yellowfin tuna. When I make this again, I will buy a higher quality tuna. That said, it didn’t impact the taste at all. It still tasted delicious!
  • Salad: For the salad, I used chopped bok choy, minced scallions, a diced red bell pepper, and a sliced cucumber. I also added a few shakes of white and black sesame seeds. I made a simple dressing of tahini, chili oil, sesame oil, and rice vinegar.

How I made it

First, I whisked together my ingredients for the marinade. I let the tuna hang out in the marinade for about 10–15 minutes as I prepared all the ingredients for my salad.

I put all the chopped ingredients for the salad–the minced scallions, sesame seeds, red bell pepper, and cucumber–in a big bowl and set them aside. Meanwhile, I also whisked together the salad dressing and set it aside.

I boiled a big pot of water, added the soba, and cooked for about 2–3 minutes under al dente. Then, I added the chopped bok choy to cook it briefly. I drained it and rinsed it under very cold water to stop the bok choy from continuing to cook.

From there, I just heated up a bit of oil in a skillet, threw my tuna steaks in, and let them go for about 2 minutes per side. they blackened up nicely around the edges. I let them rest for a few minutes as I finished my salad.

To my bowl of veggies, I added the soba and bok choy. I poured the dressing over and tossed everything together to coat with the dressing.

tuna soba salad

How I served the soba salad

Once everything was ready, I thinly sliced the tuna and divided the salad between shallow bowls. I arranged the tuna on top and finished with minced scallions and a few more sesame seeds on top.

To say it was delicious is an understatement. I think once I get a better quality tuna, the finished dish won’t look like I’m working for big salmonella.

I’ll go ahead and post the basic recipe for how I made this iteration of the dish. As always, it’s still in development, so use this as a basic guide if you decide to make it. You can always drop a comment if you have questions!


Dashi-Marinated Tuna:

  • 1 pound yellowfin tuna
  • 1 tablespoon dashi granules
  • 2 tablespoons hot tap water
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha, use more or less to taste
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil for frying

Soba salad:

  • 10.5-ounce package of soba noodles
  • 2 heads baby bok choy, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, trimmed, seeded, and small-diced
  • ½ English cucumber, sliced thinly into rounds
  • 5 scallions, trimmed and minced; a pinch reserved for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds; black, white, or a blend
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • Chili oil to taste; I used 2 teaspoons
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2–3 tablespoons water


Marinate the tuna:

  1. Pat the tuna dry and transfer it to a shallow bowl.
  2. Whisk the dashi and hot water until the dashi is mostly dissolved. Add the sriracha, miso, mirin, and honey. Whisk until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings. It will be a little salty, but you won’t be adding additional salt to the tuna.
  3. Pour the marinade over the tuna and use your hands to coat the tuna completely in the marinade. Refrigerate for 10–15 minutes.

Make the soba salad:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the soba noodles and cook for 2 minutes under package directions. Add the chopped bok choy and boil for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under very cold water.
  2. While you wait for the water to boil, combine the bell pepper, cucumber, minced scallions, and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt.
  3. Whisk together the tahini, rice vinegar, chili oil, and sesame oil until smooth. Add a few tablespoons of water to thin out the dressing. You should be able to drizzle the dressing but add as much or as little water as you like until it reaches your preferred consistency. Taste and season.

Cook the tuna:

  1. Heat the neutral oil in a large skillet over high heat. Once hot, lift the tuna from the marinade, shaking off excess liquid, and add to the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes per side–in batches if needed–until the tuna is charred around the edges. For rare tuna, cook it to 90ºF to 115ºF, depending on your preferences.
  2. Transfer the tuna to a platter to rest for a few minutes. Thinly slice.

Finish the salad:

  • Add the soba and bok choy to the bowl of vegetables. Pour the dressing on top and toss to coat. Taste and season.

To serve:

  1. Divide the soba noodles between shallow bowls and arrange the sliced tuna on top. Garnish with more sesame seeds and a pinch of minced scallions. Enjoy!

Overall thoughts

I really think this is a great recipe, and once I make a few tweaks, it’ll be a really nice addition to my collection of easy recipes on the site!

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