Updated: Sep 23, 2021
I live in the UK, so there aren't many days when the gets so hot that you can't stomach the idea of hot food. In Japan however, summer means + 30 C / 85 F temperatures are a regular feature, so that leaves a lot of people in search of food that isn't going to make them come out in even more of a sweat. Of course, there are many salads you can choose from but sometimes, you need something a little more substantial and sustaining than just salad. (I know I do) . So here is a dish that ticks both boxes - it's served cold and it's got a lot of nourishing things in it - in Japanese, it is called Hiyashi Chuka, which translates as the somewhat prosaic , "chilled Chinese style."
I don't think anyone quite knows where the Chinese connection comes from - Hiyashi Chuka will be on the menu of Chinese restaurants in Japan but nowhere else as far as I know. Then again, Hiyashi Chuka is on the menu of a lot of restaurants in Japan that aren't Chinese as well.
Putting the origins of Hiyashi Chuka to one side, you might look at the picture above and think, "So where exactly are the noodles?" In fact, there's a bundle of cold ramen noodles on the inside, covered with portions of ham, omelette, cucumber and seafood / crab sticks. (As I said, this is quite a sustaining meal - your tummy won't be ready to rumble for a while after eating this dish!) I always garnish my Hiyashi Chuka with toasted sesame seeds for a little more flavour and nutrition but they aren't obligatory. What is an absolute must have though is the broth which you drizzle over your Hiyashi Chuka just before serving. This broth is a mix of rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce and a little sugar. It takes no time at all to make but it's best prepared first to give it time to cool. (On a really hot day, you could prepare it and put it in the fridge for a really refreshing plate of chilled noodles.) Once your broth is cooling down, the rest of the preparation is equally straightforward - a one egg omelette (for 2 servings) - this is fried until set on both sides and then removed from the pan before the yellow colour has time to brown. Once your egg is ready, then you get slicing and shredding the ham, cucumber, seafood sticks and egg into large matchsticks.
Now, the fun part and you get to start building what looks like a mini bonfire - a bundle of cold soba noodles in the middle and then the matchsticks placed up against the noodles. Last, you douse any imaginary flames with the broth, pouring it all over your mound of goodies. Voila, your Hiyashi Chuka is ready.
Sound good enough to eat? You bet it is! So, if the temperature begins to rise and you want a chilled out feast, look no further than the recipe "how to" below and/or the Youtube tutorial by clicking Hiyashi Chuka - Japanese Cold Ramen Noodles. Or scroll to the bottom of the page.
Be happy and chill out! Kurumi XXXX
makes (2 servings)
4 seafood sticks
80g / 2.8 oz cucumber
3 slices ham (70g / 2.5 oz)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp water
1 tsp vegetable oil
For the broth:
100ml / 3.5 fl oz water
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
2 tbsp sugar
2.5 tbsp Japanese rice vinegar
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 servings of dried or fresh egg noodles
chopped spring onion, chopped shiso leaves or sesame seeds as a garnish (optional)
to make the broth:
put the water, vegetable stock powder, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil in a small pan. bring to the boil and simmer for 1 - 2 mins, stirring occasionally - then set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes
whisk the egg, cornflour & water well in a small bowl
heat the oil in a small frying pan. add the egg mixture and make a thin omelette, turning once the bottom has set and before it browns. once the omelette has just set, turn it out onto a plate to cool
slice the cucumber & ham into long matchsticks (long enough to set them up against the bundle of noodles
shred the seafood sticks with your fingers
next, cook the egg noodles according to the instruction on the packet
now the omelette has cooled a littlem cut it into matchsticks as well
place 1/2 of cooked noodles in the centre of each plate
next, lay half of the ham, cucumber, seafood sticks & egg matchsticks around each bundle of noodles
garnish with your choice spring onions, shiso leaves or toasted sesame
finally , pour half of the broth over each bowl
your Hiyashi Chuka is now ready to serve