2020 will forever be known as The Year We Cooked. All this extra time spent in our homes provided us ample opportunity to try (and fall in love with) some fun new recipes – from our brothy coconut curry ramen to this easy creamy sesame miso ramen.
We also proved to you that an unbelievably good dinner is just one packet of instant ramen away – and we’ve all been in a serious relationship with noodles ever since.
The recipe we’re talking about today contains the three qualities we love to see in an easy weeknight dinner: it’s delightfully unfussy (read: it won’t take all evening to make); you can prep the ingredients ahead of time, if you want; and it’s a suuuupper satisfying marriage of crunchy+chewy elements.
Here is our own version of the oh-so tasty, traditional Japanese noodle dish, Hiyashi Chūka – a chilled noodle dish with a lightly flavored dressing and a colorful assortment of delightful toppings.
What is Hiyashi Chūka?
Hiyashi Chūka- also known as reimen, which literally means “chilled Chinese”- is a classic, cold ramen noodle dish that hails from Japan, and traditionally reserved for the hot summer months.
However, we’re known to inhale these cold noodles anytime of the year- especially when we want a satisfying meal reminiscent of warmer, brighter days.
Hiyashi Chūka traditionally has bits of shrimp (or ham) layered on top, but if you’re vegetarian- or just looking to eat less meat- you can modify this recipe quite easily to fit your dietary preferences.
The basics of Hiyashi Chūka noodles are:
A chilled ramen noodle base
Cold, flavorful toppings
A fresh, soy sauce-based dressing
Alternative Ways to Prepare Hiyashi Chūka
As we mentioned above- you can (and should!) totally get creative when it comes to your homemade ramen toppings. There is lots of room for improv here, and we highly suggest that you experiment with what’s in season near you.
For the Protein:
The most common proteins you’ll find in Hiyashi Chūka are ham, shrimp, soft boiled ramen eggs, barbequed pork or boiled chicken- but, the sky’s the limit here.
We’ve made Hiyashi Chūka with everything from leftover rotisserie chicken to fresh mushrooms, and been quite pleased by how it’s turned out. And there are tons of plant-based, vegan-approved options too, like tofu and seitan.
For the Veggies:
Cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, and other vegetables that you’d easily find in the summer are popular in Hiyashi Chūka- but this is a very flexible area.
Corn, carrots, cauliflower and even broccoli can make delicious toppings for this bowl of noodles, and we’d even venture to say the best vegetables are the ones you already have in your refrigerator or freezer.
For the Garnish:
With Hiyashi Chūka, the traditional garnishes are pickled ginger, fermented bamboo shoots, and black sesame seeds, but that’s not to say you can’t get creative here as well! Consider adding different herbs on top such as fresh mint or basil.
“This cold ramen recipe is the best thing to come out of 2020… nice work, Mike’s Mighty Good!”– Derke (Missouri)
For the Dressing:
There are a lot of options for dressings here, but if you’re in a rush or don’t want to mess with making your own, using a bottled dressing is perfectly acceptable.
That being said, in Japan, the dressings for Hiyashi Chūka typically fall into two categories: vinegar-based and sesame-based.
For this recipe, we opted for a dressing that is light and tangy, with a balancing sweetness and the perfect amount of soy sauce.