Chilled noodles soaked in a savory sesame miso sauce, Hiyashi Chuka is a popular cold ramen noodles enjoyed in the hot summer months.
Aren’t noodles the best? They seem to have a special power of bringing appetites regardless of the season and the mood.
During the hot and humid summer months in Japan, when we feel too darn hot to eat, we turn to cold noodles as the most delicious remedy to beat the heat. There are endless options of cold noodles, but today I’m going to introduce one of the favorites – Hiyashi Chuka (冷やし中華), which literally means cold Chinese-style (Noodles). It starts with chewy egg noodles, a mix of refreshing and crunchy toppings like shredded chicken, cucumber, slices of tomato, all blanketed in a savory nutty sauce. Slurping down the chilled noodles, you will instantly feel cool and find your appetite and spirit back.
On Just One Cookbook, you can find the classic Hiyashi Chuka recipe with soy sauce-base sauce, and this version is with a sesame miso sauce.
What’s Hiyashi Chuka?
Despite the popularity for ramen all over the US and around the world, cold ramen is still not too familiar among many Japanese food lovers. As Japan’s summer is pretty brutal with heat and humidity, most people long for chilled/cold noodle dish rather than ramen noodles in piping hot broth.
Hiyashi Chuka is served with cold ramen noodles placed on a plate with rim (not a bowl), each group of toppings is placed radially (clockwise/counter-clockwise), like a pie chart. Then the sauce is poured over before it is served.
The store-bought Hiyashi Chuka package often comes with the sauce, but it includes MSG and preservatives. For a healthier option, you can easily make my soy sauce-based sauce shared in my other Hiyashi Chuka recipe or make this sesame miso sauce in today’s recipe.
The sesame miso sauce is a simple mix of sesame seeds, miso, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and chicken stock. The sauce itself is light yet it delivers a dynamic punch of flavor – thanks to the umami-rich miso.
For this recipe, I used Hikari Miso® Organic Miso – Red Miso, but you can use other types of miso to try out different flavors. It is my favorite brand of miso. If you’re interested to try it out, you can purchase Hikari Miso from a majority of Japanese/Asian grocery stores or on Amazon.
Vegetarian/Vegan-Friendly Hiyashi Chuka with Sesame Miso Sauce
To make vegetarian or vegan sauce, you can use kombu dashi or vegetable stock to replace the chicken stock.
For toppings, instead of chicken breast, you can use firm tofu that you bake/fry, aburaage (deep fried tofu pouch), or various grilled vegetables to satisfy your cravings.
No matter what toppings you use, hiyashi chuka is quick to throw together. So ramen lovers, let’s bring on the noodles greatness this summer!
Hiyashi Chuka with Sesame Miso Sauce
- 1 knob ginger
- 2 green onions/scallions
- 4 cups water
- ½ lb chicken breast (I use half of chicken breast)
- 2 Tbsp sake
- 1 tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- 1 Persian/Japanese cucumber
- 1 tomato
- 1 sprig cilantro (coriander) (for garnish)
- 2 servings hiyashi chuka noodles (10-12 oz or 283-340 g fresh ramen noodles)
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Slice the ginger and cut the green onion into 2 inch pieces.
- Add 4 cups (cold) water in the pot and add the chicken breast.
- Add the sliced ginger and green onions. Add 2 Tbsp sake and 1 tsp kosher salt.
- Bring water to a boil on medium heat. Once boiling, skim off foam and scum.
- Lower the heat to low and cover to cook for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, peel the cucumber skin alternatively. Slice the cucumber thinly.
- Cut the sliced cucumber into julienne strips. Thinly slice the tomatoes.
- To make Sesame Miso Sauce, grind 2 Tbsp sesame seeds with a pestle and mortar. Set aside.
- In a bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine 2 Tbsp miso, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 ½ Tbsp rice vinegar, and 2 Tbsp granulated sugar.
- Add the ground sesame seeds, 1 tsp sesame oil, and then mix all together.
- After 15 minutes of cooking the chicken, reserve ⅓-½ cup chicken stock (90 ml), and gradually add to the Sesame Miso Sauce (I used about 90-100 ml).
- Remove the chicken breast from the water and shred it using two forks.
- To cook the noodles, bring a lot of water to a boil. Separate the noodles and add into the boiling water.
- Cook according to the package instructions and chill the noodles in the ice water.
- Drain well and serve on the plate. Place the toppings on top of the noodles and sprinkle extra sesame seeds. Garnish with cilantro (optional) and drizzle the Sesame Miso Sauce before serving.
- You can keep the sauce and toppings in airtight containers separately, but I recommend preparing noodles right before you serve. Store in the refrigerator for 3 days and in the freezer for a month.