Hiyashi Chuka: Chilled Noodles with Ham, Egg and Vegetables
Walk down any main street in Japan at the start of the summer and you’ll see these little signboards hanging from restaurant shingles saying “We’ve Started Making Hiyashi Chuka” (Hiyashi Chuka Hajimemashita) . It’s when you start seeing those Hiyashi Chuka signs that you feel summer’s really started.
What is Hiyashi Chuka? Literally, it’s “chilled chinese” – meaning “chilled chinese noodles“, of course. It’s another of those refreshing cold-noodle dishes we Japanese instinctively turn to when the weather gets sticky and hot.
The key to this dish is the Kinshi tamago ( “Silk thread egg”) garnish: basically, a stack of omelettes sliced very very thin. It takes some practice to get kinshi tamago just right, but once you learn how to make it, it will be very useful to garnish a lot of Japanese dishes.
For this recipe, I use Japanese Somen noodles instead of chinese noodles. That may seem contradictory, considering the name and all but, somehow, the real chinese noodles we find in Canada are different from “Made-in-Japan Chinese-style noodles” we get back home. Trust me, though: somen noodles work great with this recipe. Added plus: Somen noodles are easy to find in almost any Asian store.
Since so many of my readers seem to live in Japan, I should add a clarification: in Western Japan, where I’m from, this dish is often called “reimen“. This can lead to confusion on two fronts. First, because it sounds a bit like “ramen” – that ubiquitous hot noodle soup. The two are not at all the same. And, second, because in Eastern and Northern Japan, “reimen” refers to a spicy cold noodle dish from Korea that’s become Morioka’s signature dish: that kind of “reimen” is totally different from Hiyashi Chuka.
Ingredient: (for two)
- Somen noodles – two bundles
- Eggs – two
- Sugar – one teaspoon
- Salt – a pinch
- Soy sauce – 5 tablespoons
- Sugar – 3 tablespoons
- Rice or apple cider vinegar – 5 tablespoons
- Mustard – 1 tablespoon
- Sesame oil – 1 tablespoon
- Sesame seeds – 1 tablespoon
- Water – 1 tablespoon
- Cooked ham
- Shiso leaves (optional)
I. Make Kinshi Tamago
- Break the eggs in a small bowl and add one teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt.
- Lightly beat the eggs.
- Heat a pan and spread the oil. Clean away the excess of oil using kitchen paper.
- Pour a small amount of egg on the pan at very low heat (if it’s too hot, take the pan off the heat source and use the residual heat).
Wave the pan to make the egg spread thinly but equally over the pan, like a crêpe.
- When the surface dries out, turn over the omelette, being careful not to break it.
I recommande you to use your hand to flip the omelette. You can use a spatula, too. But I think it easier with your hands.
- Then take away from the heat and put the very thin omelette on a plate. Let it cool.
- Repeat three or four times.
- When all the omelettes are completely cooled, stack them on top of each other, roll them up and slice the roll very thinly using a high quality, very sharp kitchen knife.
Rolling all the omelettes together is important, because if the roll is too small it’s difficult to slice them thin enough.
- Kinshi tamago is ready. Keep it in a tupperware container or wrap it up in cellophane to keep it from drying.
II. Make the sauce: Mix all the ingredient for sauce and keep it in the fridge.
IV. Boil and cool the noodles. ( See Somen for details.)
- Place the cool noodles in a deep plate.
- Then place the vegetable separately over the noodles.
- Finally, pour the sauce over the dish. Serve.
- Add mustard and/or mayonnaise at the table, if you like.