Hiyashi Chuka (Japanese Chilled Ramen Noodles)
Have you ever ordered a dish from the menu based solely on its photo? Well, I have, on more occasions than one. This was how I was acquainted with the beautiful hiyashi chuka (冷やし中華), a Japanese chilled ramen dish with vibrantly colourful toppings and served with a cold sesame-vinegar-soy dressing. It was not only love at first sight, it was also love at first bite – I love the chewiness (QQ texture) of the ramen noodles served with a tangy sesame dressing. This noodles dish is served in Japanese eateries in summer, but in tropical Singapore, you can order it from Japanese restaurants all year round. It is really easy to put together, healthy, light and refreshing. You can experiment with all sorts of toppings, such as a meat-free version.
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I learnt this recipe from my friend’s Janet Ching‘s cookbook, Gourmet Traveller 88. Janet generously mailed me an autographed copy of her cookbook, and her cookbook is now sitting proudly on my bookshelf of treasured cookbooks. The cookbook was a gift of love from her husband, whom on her birthday, surprised her with published copies of her very own cookbook. The book is compact (therefore easy to refer to in the kitchen) and contains 32 international recipes. The diversity of the food and delicious food photos clearly highlighted Janet’s culinary talent. A month later after this birthday gift, Janet also welcomed a new addition to her family, baby Marc. I would like to congratulate Janet on her cookbook and baby. If you wish to order or enquire about the cookbook, you can email Janet for details.
Back to the recipe, you can purchase most of the ingredients in Singapore at the Japanese section of major supermarkets. For the ramen noodles, I found them at Isetan Scotts supermarket, and you will also be able to get them at most Japanese-niche supermarkets such as Meidi-ya, Sakuraya and also Cold Storage Takashimaya. You can tweak the dressing to your liking – personally, I prefer more rice vinegar for the extra tangy taste.
Recipe adapted from Janet Ching’s Gourmet Traveller 88
- 2 servings of ramen (I use about 100g of ramen per person)
- 3 ham slices, sliced to long thin strips
- 1/3 Japanese cucumber, sliced to long thin strips
- 80g kamaboko (Japanese fish cake), sliced to long thin strips
- 8 kanimi (Japanese imitation crab sticks)
- Cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 egg
Sesame Dressing (A)
- 6 tbsp water
- 3 tbsp kinnogomadar (Japanese sesame sauce with roasted nuts)
- 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
- 3 tbsp Japanese rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp shoyu (or light soy sauce)
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Karashi (Japanese mustard)
1. In a small bowl, add egg with 1 tbsp water, salt and white pepper and beat till even. Heat up a pan greased with cooking spray and pour half of the egg mixture onto the pan, swirling the pan to spread the egg in a thin layer. When one side is cooked, carefully flip the omelette to the other side. Repeat one more time with the remaining egg mixture. Slice the cooked egg to long thin strips.
2. Cook the ramen in boiling water according to the package instructions. Run the cooked noodles in tap water, then dip them in an ice water bath to chill the noodles. Drain and chill the noodles in the fridge until ready to eat.
3. Mix the ingredients for the sesame dressing (A) in a bowl using a whisk or fork.
4. Divide the noodles into 2 serving flat bowls. Drizzle some sesame oil over the noodles.
5. Arrange the toppings (egg, ham, cucumber, kamaboko and kanikama) on top of the noodles. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and serve on the side, a dollop of karashi and sesame dressing.
Ingredients substitution. You may substitute kinnogomadar with tahini, karashi with dijon mustard, and instead of cooking your own egg at step 1, you can purchase ready-cooked tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled egg) from the supermarket.
Topping suggestions. Other popular toppings include blanched beansprouts, thinly sliced carrot strips, avocado, shredded chicken and boiled prawns.
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