Snow is falling almost invisibly, like drizzle, yet suddenly I notice the snow is becoming thick on the grass. The mild spice in this Japanese noodle dish is like that: you aren’t conscious of its heat until you realize you are warm from the inside out. While this recipe is usually eaten in the summer because it is served cold or at room temperature, the pepper makes you forget about the chill.
This recipe is versatile because you can top the noodles with your favorite vegetables: tomatoes, cucumbers, bean sprouts, summer squash, chard, snow peas, okra, green onions… Even corn! Instead of poached chicken, you can use tofu, ham, meatballs, hard boiled eggs, shrimp, krab…
The sesame sauce can be frozen for up to a month, so it’s handy to keep some for the days when you need a quick meal.
And it would be a fun party dish: you provide a good assortment of toppings and your guests choose their favorites.
Chilled Chukasoba with Spicy Sesame Sauce
Hiyashi Chukasoba Mushidori to Gomadare/strong>
adapted from: The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo
6 serves 4
Toppings – Chicken:
- 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 2 teaspoons salt
Bring a quart of water to a boil, and add the chicken breast, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, add the salt, and let the chicken steep in its cooking liquid for half an hour. Remove the chicken from the cooking liquid, plunge it into ice water, and let it stand for 10 minutes. Drain, and wipe the chicken with paper towels. Slice thinly into chopstick-sized pieces.
Toppings – Vegetables:
- 1 large cucumbers
- 1 sweet red pepper
- sugar snap peas
Peel the cucumber and scoop out the seeds. Cut into 3-inch lengths and slice into strips. Salt lightly and let sit for a few minutes. Squeeze out water. Roast the pepper under a grill, put it into a paper bag to cool, then rub the blackened skin away. Remove the stem and core, then cut the red pepper into 3-inch strips. String the peas, drop into boiling water until they turn bright green, then immerse in ice water.
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons toban jiang (chile-bean sauce)
Note: I substituted some Szechuan sauce because I had only a teaspoon of toban jiang—it’s available in Japanese stores but Chinese and Korean markets don’t have it! It’s unique!
- In a skillet, heat the sesame oil then add the toban jiang. Cook until fragrant, 20 to 30 seconds. Transfer to a mini-food processor. (or you can mix by hand with a bowl and whisk)
- ¼ cup sesame paste, preferably Japanese (be generous)
- ¼ cup hot brewed plain black tea
- 2 Tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon komezu (rice vinegar)
- 3 Tablespoons chopped scallion, white part only
(use the green part to garnish)
Add the sesame paste to the food-processor, and blend until smooth. Add the hot tea, 1 Tablespoon at a time, stirring or blending until smooth. Add the soy sauce, sugar, rice wine vinegar and green onions and mix until smooth. Reserve.
- 13 ounces dried chukasoba noodles
- a large pot of boiling water
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
Cook the noodles according to package directions. Test for doneness by removing one noodle and biting it. Drain in a colander, and rinse the noodles under cold running water. Drain well again. Toss with sesame oil. Note that the ramen noodles are not the same as “instant” noodles. Chukasoba means Chinese noodles, also called ramen.
Divide the noodles among 4 individual bowls. Add some of the sauce, and toss. Decorate each serving with the chicken, and vegetables. Top with more sauce if you like, and serve. (In this case, I tossed all the noodles with the sauce…)
Click on the above pictures to view my previous posts about Japanese sesame noodles.