Tsukemen Recipe (Dipping Noodles) つけ麺

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Tsukemen (Dipping Noodles)  | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

It is quite hot and humid in Japan and all I want to eat are cold dishes and noodles.  I shared Hiyashi Chuka (Cold Ramen) recipe not a long ago and today I’m sharing another favorite cold noodle recipe.

Have you heard or tried Tsukemen?  It means “dipping noodles” and cold noodles are served separately with hot dipping soup and toppings on the side (Hiyashi Tsukemen is served with cold noodles and cold soup).

Tsukemen (Dipping Noodles) | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

We use chukamen (fresh ramen noodles) that are springy and chewy for this dish, and the cold noodles go really well with hot soup with all kinds of toppings in it.  You pick up few strands of noodles with your chopsticks, dip them into the soup, the slurp them up.

Tsukemen (Dipping Noodles) | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

Just like ramen noodles, there are all sorts of tsukemen soup types and flavors.  Today I’m going to share the one that my family really enjoy – soy sauce base with a little bit of tangy vinegar kick.  If you enjoy spicy food and has spicy chili bean paste (la doubanjiang), you can make the spicy version of this recipe as well.

I used fatty pork belly to make the soup base, but you can substitute with ground pork or other meat/seafood.  If you only drink the soup by itself, it is too salty.  But when you dip the cold noodles in the hot soup, the flavor is well balanced with cold noodles and other toppings.

For toppings today, I served Tsukemen with shrimps, eggs, narutomaki (fish cake), and nori.  Feel free to add other ingredients to your liking.  Hope you enjoy this dish!

Tsukemen (Dipping Noodles) | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

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Tsukemen (Dipping Noodles)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • 6 shrimps (+ 1 Tbsp. sake for boiling)
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • A few slices of narutomaki
  • 1 package nori
  1. Cut the meat into 1 inch pieces. Mince the ginger and garlic. Discard the bottom of shimeji and shiitake mushrooms and slice shiitake mushrooms. Finely chop scallions. Remove the shell and devein shrimps.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat sesame oil over medium high heat and add ginger and garlic when oil is hot.
  3. When fragrant, add (spicy) chili bean paste (Doubanjiang or La Doubanjiang) and stir constantly so it won’t burn.
  4. Add the meat and cook until no longer pink.
  5. Add the shiitake and shimeji mushrooms and cook until wilted.
  6. Add Menetsuyu and water and bring to a boil.
  7. Using fine seive, skim off the fat and scum if necessary.
  8. Lower the heat to medium low and add miso and soy sauce in the soup and simmer for 5 minutes.
  9. Add the chopped green onions and rice vinegar. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  10. Prepare toppings. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add 1 Tbsp. sake and shrimp. Once the shrimp starts changing color, turn off the heat and cover to let the remaining heat cook the shrimp (so you won’t overcook the shrimp). Drain and set aside.
  11. When all the toppings are ready, bring a big pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles. Make sure to separate each noodles when you drop them into the boiling water. Cook according to the package instructions, but keep the noodles al dente. Drain the water and rinse the noodles to remove starch. Soak the noodles into a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain completely and divide the noodles on plates/bowls. Serve all the toppings on the noodles or on a separate plate.
  12. Pour the hot soup in a bowl. Serve the cold noodles, toppings, and soup and sprinkle katsuobushi in the soup right before eating. Enjoy!
* If you cannot find fresh ramen noodles, use udon noodles instead. They go well with this tsukemen soup as well!

Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

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  1. donna mikasa

    Oh, that looks so good! It’s been hot here in Hawaii and I’ve been making your Soba Salad, but this looks like a refreshing change!

    • Hi Donna! Hope you will enjoy this noodles! This is more “Japanese” taste than the Soba Salad and you can use udon instead of ramen noodles too. :)

      • donna mikasa

        Hi Nami! I will definitely try it with udon as I recently bought some Sanuki Udon! Can’t wait to try this recipe! Thank you!

  2. What an amazing noodle soup dish, yet so simple to do. I loved ordering noodle dishes when we were in Tokyo. Your flavors are superb. Can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing, Nami and thanks for the nice blog comments :-)

  3. Nami, for some reason it tickled me that you used the term “al dente” to describe a Japanese noodle dish. :) But I understood what you meant exactly and this sounds like a wonderful meal to ward off the heat!

  4. なみさーん!写真を見ているだけで涼しくなってきました。いいですね、やはり夏はこれですね。箸で麺をつかんで浸けてすする、日本の夏を懐かしく思いながら頂きたい一品ですね。Oh, noodles! I could even gulp the dipping sauce:)

  5. I’ve never tried dipping noodles before but it sounds like they’d be really fun to eat! I can barely eat ramen though so I think I need a little bit more practice first :)

    • Hi Christiane! There are only a few brands of “dry” ramen noodles that I consider really close to real fresh ramen noodles (but unfortunately not available in the US – or at least I haven’t seen they are imported to the US yet). Usually the texture is very different and they are more like “instant” ramen noodles… You can also try using Chinese fresh noodles or udon noodles for this dish. :) Thank you for your question!

  6. This dish is new to me, and it looks wonderful! I’ve never met a noodle dish I didn’t like, and this looks so flavorful. Hope you’re enjoying your time in Japan – but I’m sorry it’s so hot and humid. Anyway, thanks for this.

  7. This sounds incredible right now! There’s a Chinese style noodles that is similar to this, though using more Chinese ingredients. It’s called “lo mee” or braised noodles, generally using fresh thick chewy wheat flour noodles. The sauce is stickier with the addition of corn starch but it’s generally meat and soy based. To eat, you’d need to add black vinegar into your own bowl and stir up. I ALWAYS add a load of vinegar into mine, making my mom squirm. haha!

  8. Konnichi wa Nami-san, How is your trip? Are you gathering up some old family recipes from your mom? I love cold buckwheat noodles but I have not had cold ramen noodles when living in Japan. I guess I will have to give your recipe a try. I hope you are also stocking up on lots of fun pottery and props while at home for just one cookbook. Take care, BAM

  9. That soup looks really rich and flavourful! I haven’t tried this way of serving ramen but sounds really refreshing. If I can find fresh ramen I will give it a go.

  10. I’m not used to having cold noodle dishes as I’ve only ever eaten noodles hot but I can see how this can be wonderful during hot humid conditions. There are so many wonderful ingredients in the soup base that these noodles must take on incredible flavour xx

  11. You know Nami, I know of this but now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten it. And I really want to right now after seeing your recipe. Looks so so authentically good!

  12. Mae

    We were in LA recently and had lunch at Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle on Sawtelle Blvd. Their specialty is tsukemen. Long lines form before noon each day for this small restaurant which added an annex across the street due to its popularity.

    Personally I thought their broth was heavy and salty. I’ll be anxious to try your version of the broth. Imagine my surprise to see your recipe pop up today. Our thick ramen noodles were only garnished with lime and one piece of nori. The other options were boiled egg and few slices of roasted pork.

    • Hi Nik! Hmm! I wish I can tell you. I’ve never been to H Mart in my area, and not too sure if Korean store carries the Japanese noodle soup base. I know Chinese stores in my area carry various brands of Mentsuyu because Cold Soba (Zaru Soba) is a popular dish. There are different brands, but they all say Noodle base soup or something in that line… (could be soba dipping sauce, etc).

      Here’s Japanese online store link: http://shop.mitsuwa.com/eng/egoods/eindex.php?c=7&s=19

      Hope this helps… :)

  13. Hi Nami! I’m always amazed at how many varieties of noodles there are and how many different ways there are to cook them. I’ve never seen or heard of this dish or these noodles before. I love learning new things! I hope that you are enjoying a great visit with your family. :) School will be here before we know it (I’m already seeing back to school ads!)

  14. Nami, this is so intriguing – cold noodles with a hot dipping soup and toppings – it sounds so tempting and so perfect for this hot weather. I do not think that I ever tasted something similar to this but I would love to have a taste or two or three of this! I really like the contrast of hot and cold in this dish and the combination of all the different flavors. Another truly amazing post!
    I hope you are having a wonderful summer in Japan! Enjoy your vacation, my friend!

  15. Min

    Ooh! This sounds fabulous! I’ve never heard of it before. I know my husband would love this esp since it has pork belly in it. However, with his heart condition, I watch his cholesterol level like a hawk. Perhaps I can substitute it for a leaner cut of meat? Hope you are having a wonderful time in Japan despite the weather 😉

  16. Linda | The Urban Mrs

    Awww..I just had this last week and am very eager to learn the recipe. I usually get the sauce for cold noodles with soba. This is a good change on the menu. Yum!

  17. what a great and delicious looking noodle dish that doesn;t seem to hard. Sometimes i get overwhelmed with Japenese cooking especially with noodles because I tend to cook the noodles to long or not enough but I love this recipe and the sauce sounds fantastic!

  18. That’s an amazing way to serve these delicious noodles.
    The idea reminds me a bit of Swiss fondue, but this recipe is much tastier with all the wonderful flavors .

  19. What I really love about some Japanese dishes is that they are so much fun to eat! This is another perfect example: it looks both delicious and I can imagine I would enjoy dipping the noodles, choosing the toppings… I love all the ingredients anyway (I see katsuobushi too! this is one of the ingredients I couldn’t live without). Time to prepare and taste tsukemen!

  20. I learn so much from you, Nami! My family would go nuts with all of these ramen recipes. I need a personal guided tour through the Japanese market to get rid of the intimidation factor! This looks amazing!

  21. Kit

    Love tsukemen but don’t eat it often. Thanks for the recipe. Looks tasty and definitely want to try it sometime….

  22. A lovely looking meal for this hot weather Nami. Thank you for mentioning about the udon as well – I always seem to have those rattling around in the cupboard, but have never seen fresh ramen before.

    I feel like we’ve had this conversation before, but what does “tsuke” mean… dipping? I’m trying to figure out how that works in “tsukemono”?

    • Hi Charles! Haha, okay here is Japanese 101 today. “Tsuke” comes from “tsukeru (v)” meaning dip, soak, etc. Hope you can spot other words with “tsuke”. 😀 Udon works really well with this recipe and my daughter prefers this recipe with Udon (I like both…).

  23. What a perfect summer meal! I love the idea of this meal – a dipping sauce and noodles. It sounds as much fun to eat as it is delicious I’m sure.

  24. I love eating cold noodles and would love some right now! 😀 I love the pictures, since it`ll make it so much easier when I attempt to make these.

  25. I am seriously so happy that I found your blog a few weeks back. Everything you post always looks so delicious and it’s always something I love to get when I dine out but have never tried to make it at home. And like everything else I’ve seen on your blog, this looks fantastic!

  26. Hi ! I love this recipe. But I have a question: is there a way to make it meatless (for the broth especially) ? We don’t eat meat but do eat seafood.
    Thanks a lot.

    • Hi Nolwenn! Sure, make this with meatless, or replace with shrimp or any seafood you enjoy. However, I’d recommend adding precooked (seafood of your choice) after Step 6, so your seafood is not overcooked. Or you use your seafood of your choice as toppings, too. Depends – if you think it gives nice flavor to the soup, add in to replace the meat. Hope this helps? :)

  27. George

    Tried Tsukemen at Tsujita LA last week and it was amazing. I love to cook so of course I’m gonna give this a try. Gonna head to Lil Tokyo and shop for specialty ingredients no available to me locally. Tsujita says they simmer broth for 60 hours. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

    • Hi George! I’d like to try Tsujita next time I’m in LA! Wow 60 hours! I hope my recipe is decent enough even though we don’t cook for 60 hours. Let me know what you think if you try! :)

      • George

        Ok so I made it finally. I followed your recipe to the letter using the spicy bean paste and simmered about 45 min. before transferring to a crock pot for the 60 hour low simmer. I added the scallions and rice vinegar after the simmer prior to serving. If you have the time, I highly suggest trying it once. I tried the broth before putting into the slow simmer and the flavor was amazing but after the 60 hours the flavors infused into the broth and it was thicker and richer by far. Squeeze of lime wedge and garnished and OMG you are the best for sharing :) P.S. for anyone using recipe, don’t use shortcuts and use fresh garlic and fresh ginger minced as instructed.

        • Hi George! Thank you so much for your kind feedback and I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed this recipe! 60 hours! Now I want to try your soup!!!!! I can totally see how delicious it must have been! I now own a slow cooker so I shall try it next time! :)

          • Phil

            At 60 hours, everythink would fall apart.
            He may mean 6.0 hours?

            Sad news:

            NHK News.

            Death of a Noodle Master

            Large crowds of customers lined up in front of a noodle restaurant in Tokyo to remember a dish created by restaurateur Kazuo Yamagishi, who passed away on April 2.
            Yamagishi first served his special dish, called tsukemen, 54 years ago. It was an instant hit.
            Tsukemen means “dipping noodles.” You eat the ramen after swishing it in a separate bowl of thick soup.
            Yamagishi got the idea from a staff meal served in the restaurant where he apprenticed as a teenager.
            Now, more than 100 chefs who worked under him have opened their own restaurants across the country, featuring tsukemen on their menus.
            On the day after Yamagishi’s death, loyal customers flocked to the restaurant before it opened for business.
            “I heard that Mr. Yamagishi passed away,” said one. “So I wanted to taste his noodles one more time.”
            “He was a cheerful man who always said ‘Welcome’ and ‘Thank you,'” said another. “That’s how I remember him.”
            Yamagishi died of heart failure at a hospital in Tokyo. He was 80 years old.

            • Hi Phil! I think he means 60 hours. It’s common to cook ramen broth for more than a day at ramen shops. :)

              Thank you for sharing the NHK article about the Tsukemen master. If I had a chance, I’d definitely visit his shop!

              • Phil

                I never had the chance to try it. I was only in Sendai a few months back in 1987.

                If my wife, who was Japanese was still alive, she’d make it. As for me, I don’t have to patients and stick pretty much to my American recipies.