July and August in Japan (and really almost everywhere) can be incredibly hot and humid. So instead of steaming hot bowls of noodle soups, they turn to cold noodles, including this hiyashi chuka, a vibrantly colorful cold ramen noodle bowl.
Hiyashi Chuka translates to “chilled Chinese”, probably a nod to the ramen noodles, which originated in China. But as far as I know, that’s really all that is Chinese about this dish. It’s one of those dishes that doesn’t really have a set recipe because it is endlessly customizable. And each home makes it a little differently based on taste and what is in the fridge. Eating less meat? Leave out the ham. Don’t love bean sprouts? No problem, throw in your favorite veggie. These bowls can be assembled ahead of time and kept chilled, making Cold Ramen an ideal ending to a long, hot, summer day. Don’t be put off by the lengthy list of steps; this is very simple and straight forward to prepare.
Cold Ramen Sauce
While there may not be hot broth for this summer noodle dish, there is a tangy and umami rich sauce. This is a highly seasoned sauce, which is important because you are topping it on unseasoned noodles and juicy veggies, which tend to leach a lot of water into the dish. You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the fridge. It’s good for about a week.
Cold Ramen Toppings
The first topping I make is the egg crepes. Start by whisking the eggs. Then prepare a nonstick skillet by pouring in a little oil and then wiping it out with a paper towel. Use this oil soaked paper to season the pan each time before you pour in more egg.
Once the egg crepes are done, the rest of the toppings are very quick to prepare. I blanche the bean sprouts in boiling water for 20 seconds, and then drain them.
Then I cut all the rest of the toppings into long strips. Not only does it look nice, but when you scoop the ramen noodles, all the yummy toppings will be scooped with them too.
Assemble Cold Ramen Noodle Bowls
Cook the noodles according to package directions. Usually they just need 1-2 minutes depending on the thickness of the noodle. It’s important that you loosen and untangle the noodles with your hands before dropping them in the boiling water. Also, make sure you use chopsticks or tongs to continue untangling the noodles so they cook evenly as individual strands.
Once the noodles are cooked, rinse them under cold water to remove excess starch, drain them well, and divide into serving bowls. For whatever reason, ramen noodles are packaged 3 per pack which is why this recipe yields three servings. If you need another serving, buy two packages and freeze any extra noodles. You can defrost the noodles overnight in the fridge when you need them. Do not cook the noodles straight from the freezer as the noodle ball will cook as a lump and you will not be able to get the noodles to untangle.
I like to add fun garnishes like toasted sesame seeds, pickled ginger, Japanese hot mustard, and some sliced scallions.
And I serve it with sauce on the side so that everyone can decide how much they like. Plus, the dark sauce tends to dye everything once it’s poured so the dish has much better wow factor if you serve it un-sauced.
Chill out this weekend and enjoy these Cold Ramen noodles. Then take a moment to rate and comment on the recipe, and show off your bowls by tagging us @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 4 Tablespoons sugar
- 6 Tablespoons rice vinegar (unseasoned)
- 2 Tablespoons roasted sesame oil
- 3 Tablespoons water
- ¼ teaspoon dashi powder (optional)
- 1 Tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds
- 1 tsp grated or minced ginger
- 1 large clove garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 9 large shrimp (I used 21/25 size)
- 2 Persian cucumbers (or ⅓ English cucumber, julienned)
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1 8 ounce ham steak or 4 slices ham
- 6 pieces crabstick (½ cup real crab meat)
- 3 eggs
- Oil for making egg crepe
Noodles and Garnish:
- 3 servings fresh ramen noodles (6 oz or 170 g fresh noodles per person)
- 2 scallions sliced thin
- 1 Tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
- 3 Tablespoons pickled red ginger (beni shoga or kizami beni shoga)
- 3 teaspoons Japanese karashi hot mustard
Make the sauce:
- Combine all the sauce ingredients.
- Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use. The sauce stays fresh for a week in the fridge.
Make the egg crepe:
- Crack the eggs into a small bowl with a couple dashes of salt and whisk to scramble them. Set aside.
- Heat a small skillet over medium heat for several minutes. Pour a tablespoon of oil into the pan. Take a paper towel, crumple it, and then wipe the inside of the pan with the paper. (Leave the oil-soaked paper aside to wipe the pan between each batch).
- Add 2 Tablespoons of the egg to the pan and swirl it to cover the bottom of the pan. Keep swirling until you don’t have any more liquid egg to swirl.
- Cover the pan with a lid and cook the egg for 20 seconds and then take the lid off.
- Blow onto the egg. (The edge will lift up). Flip the egg with chopsticks or a spatula and cook the other side for another couple of seconds.
- Transfer the egg crepe to a plate.
- Wipe the pan with the oil-soaked paper and continue cooking in the same way until all of the egg is used up and you have a pile of egg crepes. Set the plate aside until the egg is cool enough to handle. Then cut the egg crepe in half, stack the egg halves, and then slice into very thin strips.
Prepare the remaining toppings:
- Bring 2 ½ cups of water to a boil over high heat.
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the shrimp and stir to combine.
- Turn off the heat and let the shrimp sit in the hot water for 3 minutes.
- Transfer the shrimp to a plate and let it cool.
- Rinse the pot and again fill with water.
- Bring the water to a boil over high heat and add the beansprouts.
- Stir the bean sprouts and let them cook for 10-20 seconds.
- Drain the sprouts into a colander and cool under running water. Drain and set aside.
- Next we will be cutting all of the toppings into long thin strips which will mimic the shape of the noodles.
- Slice the cucumber into thin planks and then stack the slices and cut across lengthwise to yield long thin strips. Set aside.
- Next cut the ham into thin strips. Set aside.
- Unwrap the crab sticks and then use your hands to gently separate the strands. Set aside.
Prepare the noodles:
- Open the packages and use your hands to untangle and separate the noodles. Bring a big pot of water to a boil and add the noodles. Stir with chopsticks or a pair of tongs to separate the individual strands and to keep them from sticking together. Cook according to package directions (should be about 1-2 minutes).
- Drain the noodles in a strainer/colander and rinse the noodles under running water to remove excess starch and cool the noodles. Drain the noodles completely and divide the noodles into individual plates/bowls.
- Place all the toppings attractively on top of the noodles. Use whichever garnishes you like and top your noodles. Serve cold ramen with sauce on the side.
*you can make these cold ramen noodle bowls ahead of time. Keep the bowls covered and refrigerated until ready to serve.
Keywords: cold noodles, noodles, summer, japanese, shrimp, cucumbers, ramen