Japanese – Hiyashi Chuka Soba (冷やし中華そば)

001 Hiyashi Chuka soba edited re-sized

“Hiyashi Chuka Soba” means Cold Chinese Noodles. It is an extremely popular dish when summer comes around in Japan. Matt Alt in an article for Japan Times article had written “Now that the tsuyu (梅雨, rainy season) has ended and the dreaded heat has descended upon the city, most of us have taken refuge indoors, camped out in front of the eakon (エアコン, air-conditioning) in a desperate attempt to wick away some of summer’s sticky mushiatsusa (蒸し暑さ, humidity). The summer months conjure up images of being sushizume (すし詰め, packed in like sardines) in crowded trains and bishonure no ase (びしょぬれの汗, sweat-drenched) commutes through the blazing sun, leading to stress and even, in worst-case scenarios, necchūshō (熱中症, heat stroke). In fact a great many Tokyoites spend the summer months praying for the first days of fall.”

In my mind, the compensation summer brings are the fireworks and matsuri (festivals). Japanese are practical. To combat heat and humidity, they dress lightly for e.g. yukatas (summer kimonos), drink cold tea and eat lighter meals like noodles (somen, udon and soba noodles are served cold with a chilled broth and vegetables). We lived in Ebisu which is an area well known for its ramen noodles and saw this change in the menu with the change of seasons. Perhaps Hiyashi Chuka Soba at our Food Courts in Singapore will help us fight the heat well?

Ingredients.

Fresh cooked ramen (chukamen) can be bought from the several Japanese supermarkets here. Dry ones are also available. Just cook them according to the instructions on their package.

SUBSTITUTES. Hiyashi Chuka Ramen is also a versatile dish. Imitation Crab sticks, grilled/boiled chicken breast or thighs are good substitutes for either the Ham and/or prawns. Shredded iceberg lettuce is a substitute for the carrot. Some add fresh cooked corn and blanched bean sprouts.  Instead of chicken broth for the sauce, some people prefer using dashi. There are also spicy versions of sauces.

STEP 1. Make the omelette. Beat 2 eggs and salt and sugar well. Beat in the potato or cornstarch slurry (a mixture of 2 Tbsp of water with 2 tsp of either type of flour). Fry the beaten egg in a wok, saucepan which has been slightly oiled. If you have am oblong shaped tamago-yaki pan, use it as you get more even sized strips of omelette. Photo below shows you how thin each omelette should be and how to stack and shred them.

STEP 2.Wash and cut each cucumber and peeled carrot into 5 to 6 cm sections and shred longitudinally. Slice cherry tomatoes into halves. Also shred cooked ham and sliced blanched prawns into halves. Refrigerate all ingredients until you are ready to serve.

STEP 3. Cooking the noddles. Loosen noddle as they are rather compact when you take them out of their packing. Bring a pot of water to high boil. Add noodles and stir with wooden chopsticks to loosen noodle for about 1 min. Drain noodles and rinse noodlesquickly under the tap. Drop noodles into ice cold water. Drain and keep in fridge till you are ready to serve. Portion out the noodles onto your serving plate or dish.

STEP 4. Arrange the toppings attractively (similar to the photo above) and add shredded nori. Serve with premixed Sauce.

RECIPE

Serves 4 to 6 persons

Ingredients.

4 packets of 6 oz pre-cooked chukamen noodles (discard those accompanying packets of sauce).

Sauce for Noddles (Mix in a serving bowl)
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2  Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup chicken stock or unsalted dashi
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 level tsp of Japanese mustard
For Shredded Egg Omelette
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Potato starch slurry (combine 2 Tbsp water and 2 tsp potato starch)
Other toppings
  • 8 medium shelled prawns, blanched
  • 1 large Japanese cucumber (1/3 English cucumber), shredded
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 to 5 slices of Honey baked Ham
  • one large sheet of Nori (seaweed). Shredded using a pair of scissors. (Optional)
Garnish
  • 1 Tbsp. roasted white sesame seed
  • Beni shoga (pickled red Japanese ginger) (Optional)

Serving Suggestions

What began as a Chinese dessert but for decades has been adopted into Japanese cuisine is Almond Jelly. Click here for a recipe called “Almond Jelly and Longans”. So appropriate for our hot weather!

Caramel Custard is ubiquitous as a Japanese dessert as well. Packaged crème caramel is found in most Japanese convenience stores. Look for purin (プリン?) or custard pudding. Click here for my post.

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