It’s June. That means the return of the heat, and the start of the cold noodle season. Unless you find yourself living in Phoenix, at which point you should kill yourself.
There are two brands of instant cold noodles I frequent during the warm months. You can certainly buy dried noodles, such as chuka soba, and make your own dressing. Go ahead.
The first brand is Myojo Chukazanmai. This is a Japanese style, and the noodles cook up like conventional ramen noodles. Myojo, incidentally, is the Cadillac of instant ramen. Their broths (for their shoyu, hot bean paste, and XO lobster flavors) are unparalled.
Unlike many instant noodles, the noodle block — dried, hard, and brittle — is not fried. The instructions on the packet call for a cooking time of 5 to 6 minutes, but I wouldn’t take it a second further than 4 and half minutes, especially if you like your noodles al dente.
The dressing (which features soy, sesame paste and oil) is fantastic. They include a diminutive companion pack of hot mustard. Incidentally, if you get the prepared cold noodle dish in the deli case at Uwajimaya, this is what they are using — the unopened packets are right there in the plastic container. These noodles, prepared by the Uwajimaya staff and featuring egg and a few slivers of cucumber and roast park, are sold for $5.25, but you can pick the dried packets up on their shelves for $1.99. You do the math. You can also get Myojo at Fubonn for $1.39.
The second style is from the venerable Korean conglomerate Wang GlobalNet. Wang is a fine name in Korean foodstuffs, and their cold noodles are excellent.
You can find Wang in the freezer aisle at Uwajimaya, and it’s very affordable — $1.59 for a two-pack serving.
Once you defrost the brick hard noodle block, the strands are more similar to conventional fresh noodles. They cook up to a perfect toothsome consistency in just 3 minutes.
The dressing packet is a completely different style than Myojo, and like many Korean products, it is devilishly incendiary, red, and spicy. I find the dressing to be a bit too thick, so I’ll add a couple splashes of rice wine vinegar, and drizzle of sesame oil, and a squirt of soy to loosen things up a bit.
So what to put in/on/around your cold noodles? The packages themselves have some very helpful suggestions, and you can gleam some ideas from the photos featured on the packaging as well.
My mise place. In this case, sliced tamago egg omelette, sliced Japanese cucumber ($2.99/lb at Uwajimaya — small, slender, with a very thick, somewhat bitter skin), chopped green onions, julienne carrot, browned and sliced English cottage bacon, and chopped Italian parsley (I like the fresh, grassy essence it lends). Other suggestions: cilantro, various, delicious sliced hams of assorted styles and origin, Chinese-style BBQ pork (char siu), tomato, even celery.