Tsukimi: Moon Viewing


My favorite moon-viewing noodle bowls were lovely glowing golden glass, beautiful as the full autumnal equinox moon.
Tsukimi udon (or soba) are hot noodles served with a raw egg on top to represent the moon. There are so many cautions about raw eggs and salmonella in the U.S. that I aim for poaching the egg in the bowl. I warm the bowls in a low oven (250°F / 120°C), serve the noodles hot, crack the room temperature eggs on top, ladle hot soup over them, cover with foil, return the bowls to the oven for a few minutes, then serve. OK, I’m one of the last few people who doesn’t have a microwave in my kitchen, but this technique has worked! The glass must be tempered by now! I served J. then as I reached for my bowl to photograph:


Tsukimi (月見) refers to the Japanese tradition of holding parties to view the harvest moon. Moon viewing was introduced to Japan from China during the Nara (710-794) and Heian periods (794-1185). Harvest moon viewing took place on August 15th in the lunar calendar, and it was called jugoya, which means the night of the 15th. Jugoya in the present calendar changes every year and usually falls in September or October.
On the evening of the full moon, it is traditional to gather in a place where the moon can be seen clearly, to decorate with Japanese pampas grass, and to serve white rice dumplings (known as Tsukimi dango), taro, edamame, chestnuts and other seasonal foods, plus sake as offerings to the moon for an abundant harvest. —a short summary from wikipedia and kyotoguide

Hot Udon Noodles
with Chicken and Egg

Oyako Udon

The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo

page 328
serves 4

  • 1 pound dried udon
  • 4 cups kakejiru (broth for hot noodles)
  • 1 boned and skinned chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 whole scallions, the white parts cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths, the green into thin rings
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten (don’t beat them for moon noodles!)
  • Shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice powder)

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the noodles al dente, about 4 to 6 minutes. Drain in a colander, and rinse them under cold running water, rubbing them between your hands until they are cold and no longer starchy on the outside. Set them aside to drain.
In a medium pot, bring the broth to a boil over medium heat. Add the chicken and white parts of the scallions, and cook until the chicken is done, about 5 minutes.
Add the cooked noodles to the broth, and bring the broth to a boil.
Ms. Shimbo instructs the cook to add the eggs to the pot and cook partially covered for about 1 minute. Divide noodles among the bowls, top with chicken and onions, and pour the hot broth/egg mixture into each bowl.
I served the noodles and broth into bowls, added an egg to each. I covered the bowls with foil and put them in the oven for a couple of minutes to lightly cook them.
Garnish each bowl with the green onion rings and sprinkle with seven-spice powder.

Links to basic recipes needed for moon viewing noodles:
1.) dashi: katsuobushi with bonito fish flakes
2.) dashi: niboshi with dried baby sardines
1.) kakejiru: broth for hot noodle with katsoubushi (bonito fish flakes)
2.) kakejiru: broth for hot noodle with niboshi (dried baby sardines)


33 thoughts on “Tsukimi: Moon Viewing

  1. Hey Tess, Autumn is coming; my favorite time of year! (Now if it weren’t 103 here in Pasadena today…) I actually have a tree called a ‘Liquid Amber’ right next to my patio. They DO change colors and drop their leaves in fall, so I’ll be enjoying my little bit of fall color. Actually they’re pretty common in So. Cal.
    Have you seen one of these little fellas?
    I bought one recently at the local high-end supermarket. I myself, microwave the noodles with the raw egg on top… but it always gets over done, and I like the creamy texture that the slightly underdone poached egg adds to the dish. Like in Nabeyaki Udon.

    • Ha! My daughter in northern CA was saying how hot it was there today too. But you know, at this time of year in southern MI: it was in the 80°s one day and sweater weather the next.

      I don’t like winter, but fall is a hopeful season. Plants and animals are preparing for new life, getting ready for fresh exciting times, getting rid of the old disappointing worn out broken hopes. Next year will be a beginning (again).

      Liquid amber: a tree! Imagine that! Enjoy. Is it red or yellow before the leaves drop?

      I have seen those fancy looking egg poachers! And J. makes some very excellent soft boiled eggs (even when I follow his instructions, mine are overcooked). And I once made a good sort of poached egg aka the boy scout method with a baggie and boiling water…

    • Hi Rita,
      Yes, a small sadness. In fact the second bowl has a small start of a crack in it too. Must be gentle with it now.

  2. Gosh, Tess – that bowl is gorgeous (was… :-)

    too bad it cracked, but maybe you can find another one?

    I’ve never made this type of noodles at home, but love to order it in restaurants. ONe day I should just go for it. Somehow all the different types of noodles, oriental pasta, leave me paralyzed with fear… :-)

    • I think my sister-in-law gave those bowls to me years ago, from San Francisco—so not likely to find them again. I enjoyed them but now it is time for something new.

      Asian noodles confuse me too. There are so many varieties. But Japanese noodles are understandable. Wheat noodles with different thicknesses, and buckwheat noodles made with buckwheat.

      Udon is sort of like fettichine (?), somen is sort of like capellini or angel-hair. There is soba made from buckwheat. And noodles from different parts of Japan can be thicker or thinner…

      And some Japanese recipes use noodles from China or elsewhere.

      Yeah, ok, a little confusing. hmmm…

  3. Hi Tess,
    82 already at 7:00 in the morning….
    I adore your description of autumn! How lovely! I spelled Liquidambar wrong. Here are a couple images. This is my first year with this tree, so I’m not sure whether it will turn more red or yellow! http://moblog.net/view/857346/liquidambar

    I’m sorry about your bowl… I get particularly attached to dishware that has a special sentimental meaning to it. Especially those dishes that I have lugged back from Japan over time. Some have been lost, but a new treasure with all new memories always shows up!
    I never heard about the Boy Scout poached eggs… sounds worth a try!

    • Hi Karla,
      We do have a few Liquidambar trees in Michigan, but they’re a little bit north of their comfort zone. They’re also called Sweet Gum trees. I remember being in the Bay Area once in late November once and noticing all the street trees on one street in Berkeley with those striking orange and purple leaves. “Oh,” I said to my sister, “Sweet Gums! It’s nice that you Californians get to see Fall colors a little bit, even if it’s kinda late in the year.”

      • Hi Mr. Tess, I can’t wait for my little bit of fall color! Actually, this Liquidambar is pretty big and old. Like I had posted earlier, I grew up with them, and each tree has its own “color personality”. I can’t wait until my tree starts to change color. Last Monday, it was 113 in Downtown LA; an all time record. We went down to a pretty deserted Chinatown, and had some amazing Chinese stir fried veggies, and fish. But I’m looking forward to the Oyako Donburi, (sorry about the bowl), and Nabe season again!

      • Hey Karla!
        Sweet Gums. Lovely.
        I hope I’m not jinxing the offer we just made on another house, but guess what kind of tree (big and old) is in the front yard? Ginko. !!! Yes, how cool is that?
        Enjoy your sweet gum, red yellow or a combination!

        • Oh Tess! I love Ginkos! We actually have a botanical garden close to my house that has a whole row of them. Luckily, they’re female, so they do bear fruit. It’s smelly, but all of the local Japanese and Korean families scramble to gather the fruit, wash it off, and then roast the nuts! Great in Nabes too! I will send you happy, hopeful hugs!

          • I have known for decades that there are ginkos on the university campus, and I’d liked them.
            I can’t find the lovely article a woman wrote in a local paper a few years ago about the ginko trees in front of the (University of) Michigan Union building on campus. She described walking to work one morning and seeing the bright yellow leaves fluttering, blue blue sky…
            There was rain by evening and every single leaf had fallen to the sidewalk. wet and turning brown.
            I could be mis-remembering but I think she fished a plastic shopping bag from her backpack and scrounged to collect the nuts.

            I could not find info in my brief search about ginkos whether the female trees need males to produce nuts or not? But there were already a few nuts under the tree: maybe this tree is like hens which can produce edible eggs without a rooster?

            • Oh Tess, my first trip to Japan was in October, and the delicate bright yellow leaves of the ginkgo trees were fluttering and shimmering in the crisp autumn air against a bright blue sky.
              I myself have even grabbed a plastic shopping bag and collected the slimy and smelly fruit at my local botanical gardens, but it’s later in the year out here on the west coast. I did a little research on the Internet, and it said that ginkgo trees are dioecious, meaning that they are separate sex trees; you don’t need both male and female to propagate. Also, from my memory, use gloves to pick up the fruit. More about their Japanese meaning. :http://janmstore.com/ginkgo.html

        • Karla,
          So. OK.
          The offer has been accepted. We signed our agreement about the offer this morning. Clock is ticking again to get the inspections we need done, financing secured, dots on the legal docs…

          There are problems, but it might be for us.

            • Tess, be sure to check out the JANM link that I sent you. By the way, that was supposed to be Omedetou Gozaimasu. I get funky with my waning Japanese language skills.

            • No the first tree you see in front there is a nice maple, so the gingko is not especially distinct.

              I think someone took care to do landscaping on this property. Not only with the herbaceous perennials, but also with the trees and shrubs. Whoever it was did not just stick the regular stuff you see now in new subdivisions and malls. Not even the usual plants from the 1950’s.

              If all goes well, it will be lovely. But after my love affair with the first house, I must wait until the keys are in my hot little hands before I get excited.

              I see that buying a house is not like choosing the perfect noodle…

              • The fall colors at this house ought to be amazing. Understand about the keys… hugs and prayers are with you and J.

  4. Just a little suggestion: to save your remaining bowl, you could poach the eggs separately and then gently lower one into a bowl of soup. I was once served a German potato soup with a poached egg, and this was the procedure.

    The moon is waning, but the moonlight was beautiful last night.


    • hello Kathleen,
      Yes, time goes by and the sky changes, not only clouds by the minutes, stars by the hour, but moons waxing and waning every month. It’s funny, but even the small plants under our feet keep time: crocuses have mostly underground lives. They are beautiful once a year.
      As for the remaining bowl, I re-heated the pumpkin soup J. made last night, to eat for lunch today. When I spooned a bit into the dish, CRACK!! again.
      Must be something I don’t understand about tempering glass, and why would those bowls become fragile rather than stronger with tempering?
      It is getting cold enough here now that potato soup sounds good. It is subjective though: 50° ti 60° F feels cold now but in February it will feel warm and optimistic.

  5. oh, oh, oh I hate to break a bowl! Especially a beautiful bowl like yours. But now you and Mr Tess must sup from the same bowl. Lovers sharing.

  6. Hi Caroline,
    If you read the comments above, you’ll see that we won’t be sharing a bowl. How romantic though. Like a loving cup, crossing arms and sipping one and one by turns…
    Listen to this quickly (less than a week from now), a story about an apostrophe on BBC Radio 4.

    The Greengrocer’s Apostrophe Alice, Hanging In There
    Available since yesterday with 7 days left.



  7. Dear Tess,
    thank you for the link. I listened and reflected on my own “faults and ignorance” – the glory of which is outside my capacity to know. *sigh* In fact sighing might be as close as I get to knowing.
    Wishing you to find a new pair of moon viewing bowls.
    C x
    p.s Blorgie is the name we have given to our made up breed – Blue heeler x corgis – hence blorgie. The queen would not be pleased but maybe the governor general could entertain the idea of a mob of blorgies at on the lawns of governmnet house.

  8. Blue Corgie. of course! Your pictures on the beach! I can be very slow…
    So I just listened to that link, and it was an enjoyable story. But not the one I meant to send:-((

    Sorry, sorry: being slow (xcuse: thebeeb i-player changes without notice—unless you read them).
    I meant to give you this link, about the apostrophe as a comma, a semi-colon, a full stop, a raindrop, a lock of hair, a listening ear, a lucky number 9, a half a heart,

    I was thinking of things more romantic and made a mistake.

    But now you and Mr Tess must sup from the same bowl. Lovers sharing.

    • I want to make a note of the author of that story: it doesn’t list any place on her website where it’s been published:
      Penny’s From Heaven
      James Anthony Pearson reads a story about the apostrophe that ends a relationship, written by Anneliese Mackintosh

  9. Ahhhh, yes I could be in love with a dot too. What a lovely piece of writing. I will be looking for raindrops and locks of hair in punctuation from now on.

    One of my friends has written a grammar book. He begins a chapter on apostrophes thus “…the grocer’s apostrophe. Or should that be grocers’? Or grocers?” How do you take your punctuation Tess? I must say I want to be a pendant but I make plenty of mistakes of my own so I probably wouldn’t be circling misplaced apostrophes – especially not in a lover’s note. Was it the owl in Winne the Pooh who left a note on his door that read “bacsoon”? Mark and I often leave each other that note.

    Thank-you for the link. It was delightful listening.

    Glad you were thinking of romantic things.

    • How do you like: grocer-apostrophe: a hyphenated word…

      I over-use dashes—especially em dashes.

      Blame Emily Dickinson—
      —whose poems
      look as if her words have been sewed to the page—
      long, loose stitches
      one phrase to another…

      Or blame computer keyboards because it’s easy to make a tiny hyphen big with the touch. option-shift –

      And let us not discuss how casual I have become in blogging with …

    • Was it the owl in Winne the Pooh who left a note on his door that read “bacsoon”? Mark and I often leave each other that note.

      So nice and sweet.

      When I was little, my dad would go off to work and say, “very much” to my mother. I soon realized that my friends in first grade did not think that an appropriate ‘good-bye!’ (punctuation error there? or no?) I finally figured out it meant ‘…I love you… very much!’

    • apostrophe
      apostles in painterly clouds with angels

      you know, it’s really hard to make a bad pun?

  10. Our daughter signed up to be a fan of the Facebook thing: “‘Let’s eat Grandma!’ or, ‘Let’s eat, Grandma!’ Punctuation saves lives.”
    P.S. Don’t tell Tess I’m reading all her comments.


  11. Okay. Won’t tell – although I think it’s rather lovely that you drop in to the virtual as well actual kitchen and potter about. Hope you are well Mr Tess and thank-you for saving Grandma – now I have to have a looksee!

  12. Pingback: Cheese Grits, Japanese Style? « Tess's Japanese Kitchen

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