Summer Noodles: Hiyashi Chuka Soba

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It’s summer, and that means refreshing chilled noodles—just as it did last year! My advice is to make twice as much sauce and keep it in the fridge for spur of the moment meals. It will keep for several days in the refrigerator. And if you have a variety of vegetables and some sort of protein, all you have to do is cook and rinse the ramen noodles. (Ms. Shimbo notes that thin omelette is always used as a topping for these noodles, but some people are sensitive to eggs: migraines—so I did not make them this time.)
The dearth of recipe posts lately has been the result of my daughter visiting; she’s been in Madrid for the past four years and has plans to go to Florida, or California, and Chicago. We’ve been eating out: Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, Thai, Korean, and gourmet, or she and my husband have been cooking.  We have been shopping, for clothes, an activity I usually hate, but it’s been fun because she was my “fashion guide” encouraging me to try clothes with color. It’s been four years since I’ve bought clothes and everything in my wardrobe was black, grey, brown, or jeans! Wearing colors, or skirts, feels different; maybe that’s good for my depressed state of mind.
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Summertime Chilled Chuka Soba
Hiyashi Chukasoba
serves 4
page 346
Sauce
¼ cup mirin (sweet cooking wine)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 ⅓ cup ramen stock or chicken stock
⅓ cup shoyu (soy sauce)
2 ½ Tablespoons komezu (rice vinegar)
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons ginger juice, to taste
Here’s a tip extracting juice
In a saucepan, bring the mirin to a gentle simmer to evaporate the alcohol. Add sugar and ramen stock, and bring to a boil. Add the soy sauce and bring just to a boil. Transfer to a clean jar. Add the rice vinegar, sesame oil, and ginger juice. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
Thin Omelettes
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ Tablespoons vegetable oil
(I used much less)
Stir the salt and sugar into the eggs. Note stirring with a chopstick works well because you don’t want to make the eggs frothy.
If you have a tamagoyaki-ki, a rectangular Japanese skillet, now is your chance to make use of it! Otherwise, use an 8-inch non-stick skillet or a well seasoned cast iron pan. Heat your skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, dip a wadded paper towel into a small dish of vegetable oil. Smear the bottom and sides of your skillet with the oil. Remove skillet from heat and spoon enough of the egg mixture to thinly coat the bottom of your pan. You may need to tilt the pan to cover the whole bottom. Return the skillet to the heat and cook the egg until it’s firm on the bottom. Lift the omelette and flip to cook the other side, about 3 seconds. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Make 8 thin omelettes. Cut the omelettes into 2-inch long julienne strips.
Toppings
Toppings can be
just about anything:

  1. Combine foods of different colors and textures
  2. Shred the toppings finely.

Original recipe:
3 cups soybean or mung bean sprouts
2 ounces mung bean noodles
1 small Japanese cucumber, julienned in 2 1/2-inch lengths
8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
10 slices chashu, julienned in 2-inch lengths

Other possible toppings:
shrimp, crabmeat, squid, kanikama
cooked ham or chicken breast, julienned in 2-inch lengths
lettuce, carrot, fennel bulb, bell peppers, cucumber, asparagus, broccoli, wakame, zucchini, green beans, snowpeas, avocado, tomatoes

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If you can get soybean sprouts, try them: they are delicious. Clean the sprouts by cutting off the brown root tips. In a pot of boiling water (add a little vegetable oil), blanch the sprouts for 30 seconds. Immediately drain and rinse in cold water. Drain again.
Soak the mung bean noodles in boiled water for 5 minutes. Drain and cool under running water. Cut into 6-inch lengths. (or follow package directions)

If you use other vegetables, blanch as appropriate: snowpeas, asparagus, broccoli, green beans. Parboil carrots and other “hard” vegetables. Soak wakame. Salt cucumbers and drain.

Noodles
13 ounces dried chuasoba noodles
2 teaspoons sesame oil
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the noodles al dente, 3 to 5 minutes, or as instructed on the package. Drain and wash under cold running water. Drain and toss with the sesame oil.
Garnishes
2 Tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
Hot mustard paste or smooth French-style mustard

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Serving
Divide the noodles among four individual shallow bowls. Decorate the noodles with the vegetables and omelette strips. In the traditional presentation, the items are placed in mounds like the colorful spokes of a wheel. Pour some of the sauce over each dish, and garnish with some sesame seeds on top and a dab of mustard on the rim of the bowl.
(The way I actually served this meal was to arrange the vegetables and meat on a large plate, the noodles in a bowl, the garnishes on the side, and the sauce in a jar ready to pour over. We each served ourselves.)
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Chirashizushi Steamed Ginger-Flavored Fish
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