Hiyashi Chuka (Cold Noodle Salad)

Hiyashi Chuka Soba

In Japan, the ingredients, colors, and even the temperature of a dish change with the seasons. During the hot sticky months of summer, chilled food is where it’s at and whether it’s tofu, soup, or noodles, there’s a good chance you’ll find a cold preparation to help ease the oppressive heat. Soba and udon shops in Japan often have as many cold dishes as they do hot ones, and some of the best noodles I’ve ever had have been up in the mountains, in an open-air restaurant nestled within a rustling bamboo forrest where the noodles are served in a bowl of icy cold spring water.

While less prominent, ramen also has a chilled counterpart. It’s called Hiyashi Chuka “Soba”, or sometimes just Hiyashi Chuka. I put the soba in quotes because the term “soba” used to be used to refer to any skinny noodle, and in this context, it doesn’t refer to the buckwheat noodles most of us are familiar with. This dish really doesn’t work with instant ramen noodles, as part of the appeal is in the toothsome, almost-chewy texture of the chilled noodles. If you don’t feel like making your own noodles and can’t find fresh ramen noodles near you, try substituting in thin udon, somen or buckwheat soba noodles.

Hiyashi Chuka Cold Noodle Salad

Hiyashi Chuka is an example of wafu chuka, or Chinese style Japanese food. In fact, Hiyashi Chuka literally means “chilled Chinese”. Like ramen, it’s evolved so much over the years that it’s not entirely clear what Chinese dish it was derived from, but during the summer months, it’s a ubiquitous offering at ramen shops in Japan. Unlike the complex broth for ramen, the sauce used to dress these noodles is relatively simple, making this a much less daunting undertaking at home.

After a long sultry walk home from work last week, I had to drag myself into the kitchen to find something to eat. As stood in front of the open fridge, relishing the blast of cool air, my heat exhausted eyes perked up as they quickly pieced together all the makings for Hiyashi Chuka. Cumin, isn’t really a typical addition to this dish, but I love the kakushi-aji (hidden flavor) that the toasted cumin adds to the dish. Together with the caramelized garlic and ginger, and vinegar and sesame oil, the sauce acts as a dressing for what’s essentially a ramen salad. The cool temperature, the balance of sweet, savory and sour, and the melange of textures makes this the perfect appetite enhancing dish on those hot days when nothing sounds good.

Hiyashi Chuka

for topping
2 scallions finely shredded
1/2 cup julliened seedless cucumber
1/2 cup shredded imitation crab or ham

for dressing
3 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons ground toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sugar

for egg
2 eggs
1 tablespoons mirin
1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoons dashi powder (optional)

1/2 batch homemade ramen noodles

Put the shredded scallions in ice cold water soak while you prepare the rest of the items.

To make the dressing heat the sesame oil in a small saucepan and add the ginger, garlic and cumin. Fry over medium low heat until very fragrant (about 7-10 minutes). Remove the pan forom the heat and let the oil cool a bit. Transfer the oil and spice mixture to a bowl and add the vinegar, soy sauce, ground sesame seeds, and sugar. Whisk to combine and put the mixture in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

Shredded thin egg for Hiyashi Chuka

Beat the eggs, mirin, sugar, salt, and dashi powder together in a small bowl until uniform in color. Heat a small nonstick pan over medium heat until hot. Soak a paper towel with vegetable oil and rub it on the pan to give it a light coat of oil. Pour enough egg to cover about 1/3 of the surface area of the pan then swirl the pan to coat the rest of it. Once the egg has set (about 1 minute) flip it over and cook the other side for about 10-20 seconds. If the egg starts browning, turn down the heat. As you finish each batch of egg, stack them on a plate. When all the egg is cooked, roll the pile of egg crepes up and use a sharp knife to slice them into thin strips.
Plated Hiyashi Chuka Soba

Cook the noodles for a little longer (1 1/2 to 2 minutes), drain, then rinse with cold water until room temperature. Plunge the noodles into an ice water bath to chill. Drain the noodles as well as the scallions and toss them together with the dressing. Portion out the seasoned noodles and scallions then top with the shredded egg, cucumbers, and crab.

  • http://www.facebook.com/byronchou Byron Chou

    the food you cook always looks SO AMAZING.

  • http://limecake.net LimeCake

    oh my gosh, in summer, sometimes after work all i want to do is have ice cream. i can't even fathom anything this elaborate, especially in ny's sticky heat. and i'd never think to add cumin to japanese cooking. really cool, marc!

  • http://www.bunkycooks.com/ Bunkycooks

    This is a beautiful dish and I am sure it was perfect for a hot summer evening. I love the combination of flavors and your addition of cumin in the dressing. Try to stay cool in the city!

  • norecipes

    Yea, there's a lot of stuff to prep, but the dressing can be made
    ahead in large batches and for the toppings you could really stick any
    combo of veggies/egg/meat/seafood on top. This took me about 40
    minutes from start to finish with most of the time spent on the
    dressing and egg.

  • http://myboyfriendcooksforme.blogspot.com my boyfriend cooks for me

    My boyfriend and I have been all about cold salad-type dishes since the weather turned oppressively hot. Thanks for the noodle salad inspiration!

  • Nicolle

    Have you thought about hosting a voting party for your Oprah cooking show? Everyone could bring laptops and food. :)

  • Nicolle

    Have you thought about hosting a voting party for the Oprah cooking show? Everyone could bring laptops and you could showcase your wonderful food as voting inspiration. :)

  • http://www.gourmetfoodandgifts.com Jen

    Very pretty dish … as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palette!

  • Rachel (S[d]OC)

    Looks very refreshing and pretty. On a hot day like today, his would hit the spot.

  • http://www.tasteofbeirut.com tasteofbeirut

    I thought looking at the photo that this salad would be more complicated to make; no, it is simple and so good with the cumin, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, etc. Wow!

  • http://www.tastewiththeeyes.com/ Lori Lynn

    YAY for summer and cool summertime recipes. Love the colors and textures.
    LL

  • http://www.foodgal.com Carolyn Jung

    It's mind-boggling how a bowl of cold noodles can be so refreshing on a scorching day, isn't it? You'd think they'd weigh you down, yet miraculously, they don't. Personally, I can't get enough of a big mound of cold green tea soba when the weather gets toasty.

  • Cherine

    So simple, yet so yummy!!

  • Anht

    Hi Marc!

    Greetings from an old friend in San Jose! Your blog looks great. This recipe is perfect for the upcoming heatwave to the area. Keep taking these beautiful photos.

    Best,

    Anh Truong

  • http://www.nancymatsumoto.com Nancy

    Thank you, Marc! This is one of my favorite Japanese summertime dishes, which I lived on during my summers in Japan. I'm looking forward to trying your version.

  • Dave

    Thanks for the post. I always marvel at how fantastic everything looks (and I bet it always tastes great too!). I'll have to give this a shot sometime, the ingredients don't look too hard to find and the prep easy enough for an amateur like me :P

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  • Heather

    That sounds wonderful.. I love imitation crab so much! I eat it straight from the package. It's a perfect punch of cool protein on a hot day.

  • Trissa

    THIS is dinner tonight. Enough said.

  • Erica

    That looks delicious and very refreshing for summer!!Your entire blog is perfection. Thank you for the wonderful comments ;-)

  • Kyoko

    I LOVE hiyashi chuka! It looks so luxurious with the ikura… and your kinshi-tamago is perfection :)

  • http://lickmyspoon.com Lick My Spoon

    With each new noodle dish you post about, I like it better than the previous one! It's fun that they're so flexible in what ingredients you can use; but this one is just perfectly beautiful with all the colors.. and must be equally delicious.

  • http://www.theardentepicure.com/ Magic of Spice

    Now that is a salad I could eat all day long:)

  • Ferpal

    THANKS FOR SHARING..
    I HOPE I CAN MAKE MY ITALIAN BOYFRIEND HAVE “COLD PASTA”… I KNOW FOR SURE I LOVE THEM BUT… ITALIANS… BORING LIKE HELL

  • http://www.jennifermiller.net/recipes Jen

    I made this last weekend and it was delicious!  The dressing was perfect.  Thanks for sharing :-)

  • Chubchub94

    Thanks!  Made this today for a picnic in the Redwoods.  I like the cumin, adds an interesting “smokiness” to the salad…although I will admit I used a little less than you called for.  Also purchased copies of the Peko Peko Cookbook as gifts, wonderful project..thank you.  

  • MCFC CTID

    Thank you for this recipe. My girlfriend requests this about twice a week now. Can’t wait to try your other recipes. みんなに教えて頂いてありがとうございます。

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  • Annie.M

    just wondering how many serving is that? for 4 ppls? or?
    thank you

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Annie, this makes 2 servings.

Welcome!

I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!