Tsukemen: The Recipe for Cold Noodles You Absolutely Need to Try
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Hiro Mitsui is a world-class Japanese chef and the owner of Ramen by Uzu in Washington, D.C. He's sharing the recipe for tsukemen, also known as "dipping ramen."
Is there anything more satisfying in life than a bowl of ramen? Enter tsukemen, which translates to “dipping ramen” in Japanese. This ramen dish consists of cold noodles served alongside a bowl of warm stock for dipping. It was invented in 1961 in Tokyo, but only made its way to the United States in more recent years thanks to chefs like Hiro Mitsui of Ramen by Uzu in Washington, D.C.
Chef Hiro has been eating comfort food like tsukemen since he was child in Japan. “My first experience with tsukemen was in a small restaurant in Nagoya, Japan,” he says. “It was a cold day—I remember it snowing—and I had been dying to try this place out! It was amazing and I knew when I opened Ramen by Uzu I had to recreate it.”
What’s in Tsukemen?
Chef Hiro’s recreation of tsukemen is served with a chicken bone broth made with miso and akakara spice. The cold noodles are topped with seared pork loin, spinach, poached egg, corn, scallions, sesame seeds and sesame oil, along with other authentic Japanese ingredients like wakame (a special edible seaweed), togarashi (a spicy Japanese seasoning blend), menma (fermented bamboo shoots) and naruto (an iconic white and pink swirled Japanese fish cake).
How to Make Chef Hiro’s Tsukemen
For home chefs preparing tsukemen, Chef Hiro has one piece advice: “Cook the noodles, then drop them into an ice bath to make them al dente and ready for dipping in the final dish.”
This recipe makes enough for one bowl of cold noodles.
For the stock:
- 8 ounces chicken stock
- 7 ounces dashi shoyu, a type of soy sauce that can be found on Amazon on at an Asian grocery store
- 1 tablespoon crunchy garlic, also found on Amazon or at an Asian grocery store
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1-2 pinches bonito flakes, optional
- 1 package ramen noodles
Editor’s note: Chef Hiro recommends fresh ramen noodles if you’re able to find them. Check your local Asian grocery store. If fresh are not readily accessible in your area, dried ramen noodles may also be used.
- Seared pork, chicken or tofu
- Poached egg
- Sweet corn
- Green onions
- Wakame (seaweed)
- Menma (fermented bamboo shoots)
- Naruto (Japanese fish cake)
- Sesame seeds
- Shredded chili
Step 1: Prepare the dipping stock
In a stockpot, combine the chicken stock, dashi shoyu, crunchy garlic, rice vinegar and bonito flakes, if using. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue to cook while you prepare the other ingredients.
Editor’s note: If adding bonito flakes, Chef Hiro recommends straining the stock before serving to remove the bonito flakes from the finished stock.
Step 2: Cook the ramen
Bring a second pot of water to boil. Then, add the ramen noodles and cook according to the package directions, adding a minute of cooking time to what’s directed on the package.
Drain the noodles and transfer into an ice water bath until ready to serve.
Step 3: Garnish and serve
Prepare toppings for your ramen as desired. Then, transfer the chilled ramen noodles to a large bowl. Top the noodles with the desired garnishes and serve alongside a separate bowl of warm stock for dipping. Enjoy!
Tips for Sourcing Japanese Ingredients
Home chefs wanting to explore cuisine from other parts of the world can often feel intimidated or lost when it comes to sourcing authentic ingredients. However, Chef Hiro assures readers that finding quality Japanese ingredients is not difficult and doesn’t have to be expensive either.
“For the most authentic ingredients, shop at local Asian markets,” he recommends, “especially when it comes to certain vegetables and fresh produce.” If you live in an area without a full Asian market, even national grocery chains will carry Asian staples like sauces and condiments, which can work in a pinch.