Have you tried Japanese cold noodles before? If not, you should try some try before summer ends. It can cool you down and allow you to relax during the hot summer of Japan. As the temperature and humidity soar in Japan in the summer, chilled foods and drinks are the only things I want to eat. How about you?
An Introduction to Japanese Cold Noodles
In this article, I am going to talk about the chilled noodle dishes called hiyashi chuka (冷やし中華 ) and hiyashi udon (冷やしうどん). Let’s get right into it!
Photo Credit: Canva
What actually is Hiyashi Chuka? It’s the Japanese name for chilled ramen with lots of toppings and soup. Hiyashi Chuka translates literally into “chilled Chinese food,” which fits perfectly as it’s a chilled ramen noodle dish. Some people know it as “Ramen salad” since the cold noodles are topped with a light dressing and fresh ingredients. It truly is one of the best dishes to enjoy on a hot summer day.
How is it Prepared?
The chilled noodles are boiled and cooled, mixed with homemade dressing, and covered with toppings. It’s a bright, colorful, flavorsome dish that is a fun way to experience hot summer days.
Hiyashi Chuka is served with a soy sauce-based dressing that’s sweet, savory, nutty, and acidic to tie everything together. Refreshing and chewy, crisp and crunchy- this chilled noodle dish has so many flavors and textures that it’s difficult not to fall in love!
The classic hiyashi chuka consists of ramen noodles, eggs, ham, imitation crab, cucumber, and tomatoes. But, there’s always room for your customization. Can I suggest a few variations? Here they are:
- Boiled egg
- Canned tuna
- Cooked shrimp
- Shredded nori
- Fried tofu
- Shredded Chicken or pork
Where can you find hiyashi chuka? You can buy hiyashi chuka in Japanese and Asian grocery stores in the refrigerated sections. I recommended using homemade sauces for the soy sauce and sesame dressing for better taste than the packaged sauce.
Hiyashi Chuka Cooking Tips
Here are some cooking tips below. It might help on your first try making the Hiyashi Chuka at home.
First, we begin by preparing the dressing and omelette, which needs to be cooled after cooking. And, depending on your desire, cut the topping into thin strips or bite-sized pieces. I recommend preparing lots of thin topping strips so you can eat them with noodles in one bite. Rinse the noodles under cold water to remove the starch (this really is important for a great texture). Then keep the toppings, noodles, and dressing chilled for the ultimate cold noodle experience! Now it’s ready to eat.
Photo Credit: gotetsu805
Hiyashi Udon (cold udon) is another great cold noodle recipe perfect for hot summer days in Japan. It is very refreshing and, at the same time, gives a satisfying richness from the added toppings.
How is it Prepared?
For a great flavor, you can use any udon noodle (thin, flat, dry, fresh), but I recommend thick or flat udon noodles. You can buy frozen noodles from a grocery shop and put them in the freezer. Because they’re already pre-cooked, they’re ready after two minutes in boiling water! So, if you prepare the dipping sauce ahead of time, this dish can be a quick and easy meal.
Toppings often include scallions and wasabi, but you can also use toasted sesame seeds to add a nutty flavor if desired. To add to the authentic flavor, why not add some kizami nori (shredded nori seaweed) on top? Then mix the toppings into the dipping sauce, dip your udon with chopsticks and slurp!
Hiyashi Udon Cooking Tips
First, create a large batch of the noodle dipping sauce ahead of time and store it in the fridge (or freezer) for easy preparation. You’ll need 5 minutes for prep, 15 minutes for cooking, and 1 hour 20 minutes for sauce preparation and cooling.
For the dipping sauce, you will need to prepare
- 2 cups basic kombu dashi (Japanese style cooking broth)
- 1 tbsp sugar and sake each
- 2 tbsp mirin
- Salt to taste
- ¼ cup soy sauce
Other than that, you will need udon noodles (frozen), wasabi, 2 scallions (thinly sliced), toasted sesame seeds, and the Kizami nori (shredded nori), which is optional.
Hiyashi Udon Cooking Tips:
- Combine the kombu dashi, soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar in a small pot. Cook it on medium-low heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low just before it begins to boil. Allow it to simmer for 5 minutes—season with a bit of salt to taste.
- Allow it to cool completely (around 1 hr). To chill thoroughly, place in a container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- Begin heating the water for the udon in a big pot. Cook udon according to package guidelines in boiling water. Transfer to a large dish of cold water and drain with a colander. To eliminate starch, rinse with cold water like the hiyashi chuka preparation.
- Pour the dipping sauce into a small individual bowl. Serve the udon with kizami nori on top and a small plate of toppings such as scallions, wasabi, and toasted sesame seeds on the side.
I suggest making this dish using frozen udon is a great way to save time. It will take only 60-70 seconds in boiling water to cook through. For more details, please check here.
FAQ About Japanese Cold Noodles
In Japan, where ingredients, colors, and even temperature of a dish shift with the seasons, the hot months of summer also provide a beautiful flavor like other seasons. These two dishes (Hiyashi Chuka and Hiyashi Udon) are also included in the Japanese summer special dishes.
Chilled cold noodles replace scorching hotpots; whether it’s tofu, soup, or noodles, there’s a season for everything. During the Japanese summer, you can discover your favourite cool dish to help relieve the oppressive heat.
Related article about foods
- Top 10 Summer Konbini Snacks in Japan
- Chicken Ramen, the Origin of Instant Ramen
- Food for Summer in Japan
- How Much Do You Know About the Ingredients in Ramen?
Featured Photo credit: Canva