It gets hot in Tokyo. And muggy. And somehow Minnesota seems to have skipped spring (global warming?) and gone straight to summer. The heat reminds me of walking around sweating in Tokyo and sliding myself into a mom-and-pop noodle restaurant to get a plate of cold ramen noodles with lovely toppings. Sooooooo delicious and cool. My Midwesternized version is below, but of course, you could always go way traditional with Nami’s recipe from Just One Cookbook and include things like shrimp and fake crab. Or Little Japan Mama’s recipe (her photo featured up top).

I love shrimp! I ditch the tomatoes, though.

My version’s a bit simpler and tends to be whatever I have in the fridge.  So the 1 special ingredient this time assumes you have soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil in your pantry. If you don’t, then of course you should go out and buy those. The special ingredient is the ramen noodles. You can go out and buy instant ramen, that’s fine. No judgement here. However, to make really delicious Hiyashi Chuka I recommend getting the frozen or refrigerated ramen noodles you can find in gourmet stores or Asian stores.  ramen

You could also use soba or udon noodles. Really, it’s up to your noodle preference.

Whisk these dressing ingredients in a bowl:

  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Optional: 1/2-1 teaspoon chili oil and ¼ tsp ginger (grated)

Now boil your noodles. Cook according to package directions. Drain the water and rinse the noodles in running, cold water to remove starch. This is a small thing, but do it. Whenever I skip this step the girls complain the noodles are too starchy and they stick together. Drain completely and divide the noodles on plates/bowls.

Assemble your toppings. (Check out Serious Eats’ recipe for some cool (corn?) toppings ideas).  Here are the “easy” ones.

  • julienned ham
  • julienned carrots
  • shredded lettuce or cabbage
  • thinly sliced egg crepe (i.e., whisk an egg, pour it into a pan so it spreads out thinly, cook until just firm, flop it out on a cutting board, cut thinly)
  • thinly sliced cucumber
  • thinly sliced scallions

This recipe is great for “what am I making for lunch?” because if you keep noodles in your pantry, you can make this with whatever veggies or ham or whatnot is in your fridge. And kids love choosing their own toppings and putting it on the noodles. Enjoy 🙂