Hiyashi chuka

Buried beneath the mountain of toppings are noodles.

We’ve been having really sunny days. While that’s great for outdoor sports enthusiasts, the heat and humidity has been wearing me down. I don’t have a desk-bound job; in fact, I have to do a fair bit of walking and travelling by public transport in the day.

Little wonder I’ve been feeling like a tired, thirsty camel. Without the hump, of course. (Trivia: Did you know the camel stores fat in its hump, and not water, as is commonly believed?)

With weather like this, nothing beats a cold, refreshing plate of hiyashi chuka (Japanese-style cold noodles) for lunch. The sweet, tangy dressing does wonders for one’s appetite.

And it’s a cinch to put together too. Once you’ve got the sauce and noodles, you can experiment with the toppings, but the popular version (above pic) works wonderfully. Basically, you want a combination of sweet, savoury, and tangy flavors, and crunchy and soft textures.

Traditionally, this dish is made using chuka soba noodles. But I used instant ramen (*gasp* Oh, the horror!), and it worked just as well. For me, anyways. Heck, there’s one version I came across which used angel hair pasta. Hey, so long as it tastes fantastic, why not?

Hiyashi Chuka
(serves 2)

For the dressing:
1/2 cup light chicken stock*
3 tbsp white rice vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

1 egg, fried crepe-style and julienned (cut into thin strips)
1 slice ham, julienned
2 or 3 crabsticks, torn into thin strips
a handful each of Japanese cucumber and lettuce strips
a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

2 servings of noodles
sesame oil

1. Boil the noodles till cooked. Rinse with cold water to remove excess starch. Drain and toss with some sesame oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Chill in the fridge if preferred.

2. Mix and boil the sauce ingredients. Cool and chill in the fridge.

3. To serve, place noodles on a plate and garnish with the toppings. Just before eating, pour the sauce over. Mix the noodles and toppings well.

*If chicken stock is unavailable, cheat by mixing water with a teaspoon of instant chicken stock granules. If all else fails, use plain water.