If somebody talks about Japanese cuisine, one can’t forget to mention Japanese noodles. Although rice is the staple food of Japan, noodles form an integral part of the Japanese cuisine, especially as an alternative to rice-centric meal. Basically, there are three types of Japanese noodles―soba, udon, and ramen.
Soba noodles are thin and made up of buckwheat and wheat, whereas udon noodles are thick and made up of wheat only. Ramen noodles are also made up of wheat, but they can be thin, thick, or ribbon-like in shape. It is believed that soba and udon are traditional Japanese noodles, whereas ramen is based on Chinese noodles. There are several ways of preparing and serving these noodles.
The Zaru Soba
- Soba (either fresh, homemade, or dried), 12 oz.
- Instant dashi, 1 cup
- Soba tsuyu sauce, 4 cups
- Rice vinegar, 1 tbsp.
- Ginger (grated), 2 tbsp.
- Wasabi (root vegetable grated into a green paste or in powder form), 2 tbsp.
- Nori seaweed (thin, dried), 1 sheet
- Leek, 2
- Scallions, 2
- Daikon (grated), 2 tbsp.
Boil the soba for about 6-8 minutes and drain the remaining water (the water can be consumed as a soup). Place the noodles under cold running water. Serve the cold or chilled boiled soba in a bamboo tray (zaru) with toppings of shredded nori seaweeds and with the soya-based sauce for dipping, called soba tsuyu on the side. Add dashi, wasabi, ginger, rice vinegar, and leek to the tsuyu sauce to get a good flavor and taste. Garnish with scallions and daikons while serving.
The Tsukimi Udon
- Udon, 10 oz.
- Chicken broth, 4 cups
- 4 eggs
- Naruto (fish sausage with a pink pattern inside)
- Leek or green onion, 2
- Soy sauce, 6 tbsp.
- Mirin, 2 tbsp.
- Sugar, ½ tbsp.
- Salt and pepper
First, cut the naruto at about 7 mm thickness. Also cut the leek at about ½ cm length. Now, boil the udon in a saucepan and some water in another pan (water quantity should be about 100 ml per person). Sieve the boiled udon, and run the hot water over them. Add the chicken broth, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and salt to the hot water and boil it again. Pour the hot broth in 4 oven-friendly bowls and add the udon to them. Remove the yolks from the eggs carefully, and place them in the center of each bowl. Put the bowls in the oven and bake for about 5 minutes. Add the cut naruto and leek on the side and sprinkle some pepper. You can serve this dish with pork, bean sprouts, and bamboo shoots for a different taste.
The Miso Ramen
- Ramen (straight and thin), 10 oz.
- Chicken breast, ¼ lb
- Chicken broth, 5 cups
- Ginger paste, ½ tbsp.
- Miso (fermented soybean), 6 tbsp.
- Leek (chopped), 2
- Scallions (sliced), 2
- Soy sauce, 2 tbsp.
Boil and cook the chicken on a low flame for about 30 minutes. Boil the ramen for about 5 minutes and drain. Divide the noodles into 4 bowls. Shred the boiled chicken into thin strips and add it on top of the noodles. In another saucepan, take the chicken broth, add the ginger paste to it, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Now, add the miso, leek, and shredded seaweed to the broth and mix well. Add the salt, pepper, and soy sauce according to your taste. Pour the hot broth into the bowls. Garnish with scallions, and serve it with sauce and bamboo shoots for extra flavor and taste.
The ingredients for Japanese noodle recipes are very typical and could be hard to find. However, one can get them in Japanese grocery stores, which are available in many of the major cities. The Japanese dishes including the noodles are one of the world’s healthiest diets.