Japan Eats

Recipe: Tsukemen (dipping noodles)

Tsukemen may have started out as summer dish, but you can eat it all year round.

Tsukemen is a dish featuring ramen-style noodles, a dipping sauce and usually some kind of garnish. Served separately, it’s the diner who dips the cool or luke-warm noodles in the hot soup. It’s a fun twist on ramen, and increasing popular in Japan, particularly in Tokyo where the dish is said to have originated.

Tsukemen

Tsukemen

This particular recipe has a distinctly Chinese flavor, thanks to the mix of chilli bean paste and tianmianjiang sauce. Note that the soup should be a little salty as the noodles and garnish will water down the flavor. Experiment with boiled cabbage, boiled spinach and fresh coriander as a garnish.

This dish involves a little preparation, but comes together quickly at the end.

Ingredients (serves 3 – 4 people)

Tsukejiru (soup)

  • 100 – 130 g minced pork
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped ginger
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons of doubanjiang (Chinese chilli bean paste)
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons of douchijiang (blackbean chilli paste)
  • 400 ml chicken soup stock
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of tianmianjiang (sweet soybean paste)
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of roughly chopped green onion
  • 2 – 3 pinches of black pepper

Garnish

  • 50 g string beans
  • 50 g carrot
  • 100 g bean sprouts
  • 30 g radish sprouts
  • 10 stalks Asatsuki chives

Noodles

  • 100 – 120 g Chinese noodles per person

Method

First prepare the garnish. Cut off both sides of the string beans. Place a pan with 4 – 5 cups of water on a high heat. Once it comes to the boil, add a pinch of salt and boil the string beans for 3 – 4 minutes. Drain and cool them down in a bowl of cold water; drain again and cut them diagonally into 4 – 5 cm lengths.

Cut the carrot into 4 – 5 cm sections. Cut lengthwise, with the grain, so that you can create rectangles 2 mm thick. Now lay them on their sides and slice them again so they form 2 mm x 2 mm strips. Place a pan with 2 – 3 cups of water on a high heat. Once it comes to the boil, add a pinch of salt and boil the carrot for 1 minute. Drain and cool in a bowl of cold water, drain again.

Put the bean sprouts in a bowl and cover them with water to prevent the color changing. Pluck away the roots. Place a pan with 4 – 5 cups of water on a high heat and once it comes to the boil, cook the bean sprouts for 1 minute. Drain and cool them in a basket.

Cut the roots from 30 g of radish sprouts and rinse them in cold water.

Cut the asatsuki chives into 4 – 5 cm lengths.

Place a small pot (enough to hold 500 – 600 ml) with 1 table spoon of sesame oil on a low heat. Once it has become warm, add the finely chopped garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 – 2 mins. Add the minced pork, turn the heat up to medium and cook well. Turn the heat down to low and add 1 – 2 teaspoons of doubanjiang and douchijiang. Mix and sauté for another 1 – 2 min until the mixture gives off a spicy aroma.

Now add the 400 ml of chicken stock. Once it comes to the boil, add 2 tablespoons of sake, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 2 – 3 tablespoons tianmianjiang and 2 – 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and mix well.

Turn off the heat, add 2 – 3 tablespoons of roughly chopped green onion and 2 – 3 pinches of black pepper.

Finally, cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain them and cool in a bowl of cold water. Wash the noodles carefully while still in the bowl, changing the water a couple of times so you can remove the starch.

Serve the noodles, garnish and soup separately. When eating, choose your favorite garnish and place it in the soup with the noodles.

Japan Eats Podcast: Episode 11, “Lucky Peach – Part 2″

In the second part of our conversation about Lucky Peach, we discuss authenticity, the magazine’s recipes and talk about what we’d like to see in the next edition.

The Japan Eats Podcast is presented by Garrett DeOrio, Marcus Lovitt and Christopher Pellegrini. To listen, click play on the audio player below:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You can also subscribe to the fortnightly Japan Eats feed via iTunes or directly with our RSS feed.

Find the Japan Eats Facebook page here. Have something to say? Drop us a line.

Here are some links to what we discussed this week:

You can e-mail us at lovitt@japaneats.tv

Follow us on the Japan Eats Twitter feed. And please “Like” Japan Eats on Facebook.

Japan Eats Podcast: Episode 10, “Lucky Peach – Part 1”

The panel discuss the new food quarterly from Momofuku’s David Chang

The Japan Eats Podcast is presented by Garrett DeOrio, Marcus Lovitt and Christopher Pellegrini. To listen, click play on the audio player below:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You can also subscribe to the fortnightly Japan Eats feed via iTunes or directly with our RSS feed.

Find the Japan Eats Facebook page here. Have something to say? Drop us a line.

In this week’s Japan Eats Podcast, Garrett DeOrio, Marcus Lovitt and Christopher Pellegrini give their impressions of David Chang’s Lucky Peach.

Here are some links to what we discussed this week:

You can e-mail us at lovitt@japaneats.tv

Follow us on the Japan Eats Twitter feed. And please “Like” Japan Eats on Facebook.

Greasy Spoons (and Chopsticks): Genten Ramen

greasyarticleimage copy

In the third of a series on the Baba-Waseda ramen belt, Nick swings by Genten.

Having found a certain atmosphere, but not the satisfying bowl he was hoping for at Merci, your humble guide turned in the opposite direction and went to Waseda-dori, where, next to exit 3B of Waseda station, he saw Genten.

Genten is a newer shop – ticket machine at the front, all bright lights, clean interior, long counter down one wall and tables at the back. Not exactly the traditional ramen shop configuration, but one that’s popular with chains.

Now, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect something special at a place whose name literally means “origin” (as in a mathematical reference point from which other things are measured). I know me some braggarts, but publicly advertising your business as that from which things should be measured is quite a boast. I took it as a challenge.

Genten is a chain, with branches all over the country and it does have its own following, but it is not top shelf.

There’s a moral: Don’t boast.

I ordered “Genten Ramen” (800 yen), which was a fair, but uninspired tonkotsu with a smattering of the usual toppings. This was the soup of a discount fast-food chain, not of ramen specialists. The noodles were thin and overcooked.

Genten gives free upgrades to large size, which is a hit with the students who go for volume above all, and has a menu made up mostly of tsukemen, which is maybe the way to go. The photos on the walls of noodles being lovingly crafted and the shaft of wheat in the logo on the door are misleading.

Next up is a legend almost next door, let’s hope that lives up to its reputation.

Genten is next to exit 3B of Tokyo Metro Tozai line Waseda Station, on Waseda-dori. Turn right once you reach the top of the stairs and look on your right.