Hiyashi Chuka: the Cold Ramen
I've promised a recipe a week and take that promise very seriously. Unfortunately last week we had a family emergency so I decided it was best to stay silent on all forms of social media including this blog. I'm back this week but may not be as consistent in my posts for the next couple of months since I'll be focusing on another project. So I ask for your patience in return for some seasonally appropriate recipes. And hopefully I can reveal the project in the near future.
This week's recipe is hiyashi chuka (冷やし中華), a cold ramen often only available during the summer months in restaurants. It's perfect when you don't want to let the heat stop you from slurping down these alkaline noodles.
First let's talk toppings. The dish itself is very simple and the ingredients listed are merely a guideline. My only musts for this dish are the cucumber and egg. They are a staple in every variation. My other favorites are imitation crab aka kanikama, ham, and blanched bean sprouts. The sprouts and the cucumber give a nice crunch for a salad feel which is perfect when the temperature is north of 80 degrees. The key is to balance crunch, protein, and color. I've seen corn, tomatoes, chicken breast, roast pork, shrimp, and asparagus. The possibilities are endless. For the most part, julienne the ingredients so it mixes well with the thin noodles.
For the imitation crab I use the Osaki brand. You don't want to skimp because the cheap ones are barely edible. I get about 30 sticks for $7-8 so if it's not the Osaki brand and it's cheaper than that it's probably not worth eating. You don't have to julienne imitation crab since you can pull them apart with your fingers once fully defrosted. You can make the thin egg crepes the same way as in the sushi cake post.
While you're prepping the toppings, mix the sauce ingredients in a pot and bring up to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes and then let it cool in the fridge until ready to serve. If you want a soupier hiyashi chuka, feel free to add more water/stock to the mixture.
Now you need some ramen noodles. I like to use Sun Noodle's kaedama because you pay just for the noodles. You may be able to find them at Whole Foods or a Japanese grocer. If not, go with any fresh ramen noodles or in a pinch, lo mein noodles. Boil the noodles according to the manufacturer's instructions and rinse them under cold water once cooked.
At this point, it's just assembly. Plate the noodles first and arrange the toppings as you like. Pour over the sauce and you're ready to eat!