Japan Brought Home Bronze at

Hamada of Japan noodles recipes

Soba
Soba is made of buckwheat flour, and can be eaten hot, in soup, or cold, with dipping sauce, which is called Zaru Soba. For hot soba, prepare the soup stock separately from the noodles, and serve hot. The variations are the same as for the cold soba (except for the walnuts). In Japan, it is also common to find sansai (mountain vegetables) nishin (simmered herring) and tsukimi (plain raw egg). A sprinkling of shichimi togarashi (seven spice powder) is available on the table. Tempura soba is also a nice and filling treat. For hot soba, a single tempura shrimp is laid on top of the soba. With cold soba, it is called ten-zaru, and includes shrimp and vegetables, which are served hot and eaten alongside the soba with the same dipping sauce. As I rarely make tempura at home, I like ordering this when I’m out.

Udon
While dried udon noodles are readily available in the West, I prefer the soft, yet chewy texture of frozen udon. This is really handy, especially when adding to nabe (hot pot dishes), as they are already fully cooked and don’t have to be simmered in separate water. Therefore, that can be added directly to whatever simmering broth you are using. Contrary to their appearance, the thick white noodles stand up well to simmering, and don’t get overly soft very quickly. Nabeyaki udon is a popular menu item at Japanese restaurants in the West, and consists of an individual nabe (ceramic or iron heat-proof vessel) filled with udon, tofu, kamaboko, chicken and vegetables such as hakusai (Chinese cabbage) and green onions.
The fixings for hot and cold udon are the same as for soba, but kitsune (fox) udon is the most popular kind. This consists of a single square of fried and simmered tofu on top of a bowl of hot udon. Tsukimi (moon viewing) udon is my personal favorite. I prefer my egg almost raw, so I add it at the very last minute. The heat gently “cooks” the outside of the white, leaving the center raw, but warm. As with soba, I like sprinkling the udon with a hefty amount of shichimi togarashi as well.

Ramen
Ramen noodles originally came from China, and have become a beloved fast food for many, and a cheap junk food for poor students around the world. The packaged variety available in the West bears little resemblance to the real thing, and the dry soup stock is loaded with sodium and chemicals. Ramen is also referred to as chuka-soba (Chinese soba) and is made with wheat, water and eggs. There are several brands of packaged ramen noodles of decent quality, including Myojo Chukazanmai, that are available at Japanese and Asian markets. These cost up to 4 times as much as the cheap kind, but have added packages of real sesame oil, miso or soy sauce that are much more flavorful. The noodles are of better quality as well.

Visiting a Ramen Shop
There are so many variations of ramen that the possibilities are endless. Japan features various regional styles of ramen, often with freshly made noodles and rich soup stock made of pork, chicken or a combination of the...

Somen
I always equate these thin (thinner than angel hair pasta) white wheat noodles with summer. They are the perfect thing to eat when it's hot & humid and your appetite isn't great. Elegant and refined, somen noodles were the favorite of Japan's aristocracy. The photo at right is the creation of my husband. He was influenced by the linear wave patterns in Rimpa art. The glass bowl is in a shell shape, by a Japanese contemporary glass artist.

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