Thursday, September 15, 2005

Chilled chukasoba

Just in time for a return of hot and humid weather comes my stab at chilled chukasoba. If you like, it’s sort of a summer equivalent for ramen, but cool rather than piping hot. I used Hiroko Shimbo’s recipe from The Japanese Kitchen, but I made some changes in the accoutrements added to the noodles. Shimbo recommends veggies such as cherry tomatoes, bean sprouts and Japanese cucumbers. I decided to go with what I had on hand, so I substituted stir-fried shiitake mushrooms and bamboo shoots. Also added to the noodles was some chashu, which remains quite tasty, although it’s vanishing rather quickly. The noodles are a mix of chukasoba and bean thread noodles (aka glass noodles or cellophane noodles, among other things). They are covered with a sauce comprised of mirin, chicken stock, sugar, shoyu, rice vinegar, sesame oil and ginger juice.

The results, though fine, left me wanting to tinker. I made enough sauce to qualify as a broth, but the strong vinegar taste was more suited to a smaller quantity of dressing. The sauce and noodles would be better complemented by blanched fresh vegetables rather than the stir-fried canned and dried ones I used. I used sliced ginger rather than grating ginger for ginger juice, so any ginger present in the sauce was at best an undertone. In an attempt to reduce complexity, I omitted the traditional shredded omelet garnish. Still, it was a good illustration of what one can use chashu for.

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