"Hiyashi chuuka" literally means "chilled Chinese", "Chinese" in this case refers to the ramen noodles used for making it. Its origins are not entirely clear, but it is believe to have appeared around the 1930s in the Sendai area. The dish is a mix of Chinese, Japanese and Western influence.
What it is and how to make it
The dish is basically cold ramen noodles topped with thinly sliced toppings on which is poured a chilled sauce. A key point to making a great-looking Hiyashi chuka is the usage of rich-colored toppings.
The sauce called "tare" is served separately, poured only right before eating. It is usually made of soy-sauce, vinegar and sesame oil. Sugar can also be added for a sweeter taste, and water may also be added to thin the sauce for a lighter taste. Chilling the sauce makes the dish more refreshing.
Ramen noodles are the standard, but soba (buckwheat) noodles may also be used. Once boiled, it's important to cool-off the noodles by placing them in cold water for some time. For presentation purposes, the dish looks best when the noodles are placed in a shallow bowl.
As for the toppings, the general rule is to make it colorful and to slice everything thinly. Frequently used ingredients are ham, chashu (roasted pork filet), Japanese-style sweet omelet, cucumbers, tomatoes and seaweed. There is no fix rule for this recipe however. Ingredients vary by region and personal taste. An important point is to not mix things up! The dish looks much better when the toppings are separated.
Hiyashi chuka can be made at home or eaten at a restaurant, but a popular thing for the Japanese is to make it a bento and eat it at a picnic.
Hiyashi chuka is simply one of the best meals to have during the Japanese summer! It's light, delicious and healthy. The perfect meal when you have little appetite. Hope you enjoy plenty of it before it vanishes from the restaurant's menus once the summer leaves!
For other great summer noodle dishes please check out the link below!