If you’re a big fan of trying out foods from the Asian continent then no doubt Japanese food has been on your plate at some point. Japanese food is known to include both regional and traditional delicacies from all over the Asian country. Their most common dishes include rice, sushi, vegetables and also seafood. The Japanese people are also fond of noodles that include udon and soba and other types of fish. You have probably tried and loved some of these, but have you ever heard of Japanese Tsukemen? Have you ever tasted it?
If not, have no worries. This article will have a lot of what you will need to know about this dish. We talk about its origin, curiosity, variations and so much more. We have also included a simple recipe that you could try out in case you are interested in finding out for yourself just how good this dish tastes.
Tsukemen Tokyo (Origin and Curiosities)
Tsukemen refers to cold ramen noodles that are served alongside some hot dipping broth. This broth is usually made up of a lot of ingredients. It’s a highly popular food especially in its country of origin mostly because of the taste. It’s known to be very tangy and generally has a rich delectable taste. This dish was first created back in 1961.
The inventor was known as Kazuo Yamagishi, a restaurateur. This dish quickly found its way into the hearts of Japanese people. Later, it made its way to the United States, especially Los Angeles. That said, it didn’t really spread much in other American cities. However, this does not make it any less popular to those who have managed to taste it.
Tsukemen Tokyo noodles are always served cold. This is when the soup is served hot. The hot soup properly seasons the noodles. That said, you can also serve the noodles at room temperature. The additional dishes that are used with this dish are served on top or on the side.
Some of the ingredients that are used in creating this dish include chashu, tamago, nori, as well as some boiled eggs. Tsukemen’s soup makes such a great dipping sauce. Compared to ramen broth, this one is much stronger in terms of flavor. You’ll definitely enjoy it if you prefer to eat dishes with distinct tastes.
In some areas, a Japanese soup called dashi can be used. In other cases, some people dilute the soup and its strong flavor using hot water.
There are different types of noodles that can be used in the preparation of tsukemen. They include soba and udon. Soba is a thin type of Japanese noodle that is made from backwheat. Udon is a thicker variation of noodles that is made from wheat flour. It is also very common comfort food.
The one factor that makes the best tsukemen noodles is the balance between their size and the elasticity. The type you choose should be soft enough but also fun to chew.
Tsukemen Vs Ramen
The biggest difference that exists between ramen and tsukemen is the fact that in tsukemen the noodles and soup are served separately. For ramen, the noodles are usually soaked in the soup. That said, for tsukemen, you get to taste the noodles better. This is because of the separate serving. For this, the noodles are also put under cold running water after they have been boiled. This helps firm them up giving them a texture that is distinct from that of ramen.
In the past, ramen was made using thin and smaller noodles. However, today thick noodles are also used and they bring out wheat flavor.
For tsukemen, you’re supposed to dip the noodles inside the soup that’s filled with toppings. The noodles are always thick and you can choose any amount that will fill you better. This thick soup has a rich and nice soy sauce base so you will be able to taste both its sweetness and acidity. That said, there are other restaurants that have over time come up with their own unique soups for tsukemen.
Eating it simply involves dipping the noodles inside the hot soup. You can also use the atsumori style to eat tsukemen. Atsumori is another name for warm noodles. To complete this, you can add what is called soup wari. This thins down and warms the soup’s base. The result is an easier to drink soup once you have finished eating the toppings.
For ramen, there are so many different types of soup bases. You could pick soy sauce, miso poke bone broth, salty or spicy ones, among many others. Ramen also allows you to use different noodle types. You will realize if you delve into Japanese foods that there are a number of them that are similar to ramen. These include tanmen, soba, champon and udon. In fact, if you aren’t too familiar with Japanese cuisine, you could easily have them confused. To be certain of what you’re having, just make sure you check the menu. One of the things that make ramen so tasty and enjoyable is the fact that while eating them, you can easily enjoy the soup and noodles that are full of flavor since they have already been soaked up in the soup.
- 2 cups vegetable, chicken or beef stock
- 2 slices kamaboko fish cake
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce (you can have more on the side to taste)
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 2 ramen eggs (halfed lengthwise)
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 2 pinches katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
- 2 teaspoons miso
- 1 package fresh ramen noodles
- 1 green onion thinly sliced
- Toasted sesame oil (for garnishing)
- Crunchy chili oil (for garnish)
- Grab a large pot of water then bring to a boil.
- In a separate bowl, mix the stock, the soy sauce and mirin. Boil these ingredients too. Afterwards, reduce the heat to a simmer. Proceed to add the rice vinegar and stir it so that it combines properly.
- Get a fine-mesh sieve and pass the miso through it. Stir this to combine and then boil again. Cook this for a few minutes until it becomes slightly thick. Taste it and then season accordingly. Ensure the broth has an intense flavor and is well salted then remove it from the heat.
- Add your noodles to boiling water and then cook according to the instructions on the package. Once it’s already cooked, insert the noodles in ice cold water immediately. Alternatively, you could drain it and then hold the strainer under some cold water for about two minutes. Ensure you swish these noodles around using your fingers.
- Place the chilled noodles on two different serving bowls. You can also use serving plates instead. Also place the fish cake and ramen eggs on the serving bowl/ plates. In two other different bowls, ladle the broth. Use the katsuobushi as toppings as well as the green onions. Drizzle some toasted sesame and chilli oil on the plates.
Tsukemen is one of the best comfort foods you can find in Japan. It’s great, especially in the summertime. However, with just a few tips, you can get an even better and tastier meal. Some tips include:
Using fresh noodles. This helps a lot considering noodles make the most part of this popular Japanese dish. As much as possible, opt for fresh ramen noodles or chukamen. This will make sure you get the most delectable taste. Fortunately, these are easy to find at food stores.
Go for a bold flavor. The tsukemen broth is generally supposed to be salty and very strong compared to that of ramen. This is simply because the broth is meant for dipping and not exactly sipping. You should therefore not shy away from going bold when it comes to the flavors. This is because they will always balance well when you start eating it with the noodles.
Ensure you build the broth well. To properly build your broth, you could always jazz your store-bought meat up using both water and mentsuyu. Mentsuyu is a soup base that’s also of Japanese origin. It consists of katsuobushi and kombu. Katsuobushi is simply dried bonito flakes. Use it once it’s been simmered in sake, soy sauce or mirin.
As can be seen above, tsukemen is one very interesting dish. A lot of people of Japanese origin will often reach for it especially when they want some comfort food. It’s easy to prepare considering the ingredients you need are locally available. All you need to do is make your way to a good grocery store near you and ask for all of them.
Preparing the dish also takes a very short time which is great. It means this makes an easy go-to food when you do not have too much time in your hands. It is a nice and filling Japanese food that you should definitely try out in case you find yourself in the country. If you can’t travel to Japan, simply make it at home. You’ll love it.
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