This week’s sweltering summer heat made me crave the chilled Asian noodle salads from my pre-Paleo days (my “salad days,” pun intended), so I decided to make a Paleo Hiyashi Chūka (a.k.a. Cold “Ramen” Salad).
What’s hiyashi chūka, you ask? In short, it’s a refreshing summertime ramen salad—cold noodles served with a vibrant assortment of colorful toppings and seasoned with a chilled tare sauce, a sweet, umami-packed soy sauce flavored with mirin, vinegar, and dashi. Influenced by Chinese and Western cuisines, this 20th-century Japanese invention literally means “chilled Chinese food.” I have fond memories of slurping up bowls of hiyashi chūka while Henry and I ate our way through Kyoto; when we returned to San Francisco, we were determined to seek it out in Japantown.
Or, rather, I was determined to seek it out. Henry just tagged along to humor me.
Sadly, like many Asian dishes, hiyashi chūka doesn’t easily lend itself to being Paleo-ized. News flash: Ramen isn’t exactly a staple of caveman cuisine. I resigned myself to a ramen-free existence…until I saw on Instagram that my pal Kyle Hildebrant was frequenting a ramen joint in Portland that served a grain-free version using spiralized vegetables. Naturally, I had to go check it out myself.
And as usual, Henry tagged along to humor me.
Yes, you can get #glutenfree, spiralized-veggie ramen in Portland! Thanks to a tip from our pal @kylehildebrant, we went to @kayosramenbar for lunch! So, so good! #nomnomeatspdx
A post shared by Michelle Tam (@nomnompaleo) on Jun 27, 2017 at 12:19pm PDT
The spiralized veggie noodles at Kayo’s Ramen Bar were fantastic in steaming broth, but in this hot hot heat, I knew what I really wanted was a bowl of hiyashi chūka. Plus, I had a sneaking suspicion that one of my new sauces from Ready or Not!, our upcoming cookbook, could double as the dipping sauce.
And guess what? I was right!
This veggie-packed, Whole30-friendly version of hiyashi chūka uses spiralized and blanched daikon noodles in place of cold ramen, and my All-Purpose Stir-Fry Sauce turns out to be a worthy replacement for the traditional soy-based tare. But just like the original, this chilled “ramen” salad is topped with a rainbow-hued assortment of julienned meat and veggies that you can customize according to your preferences.
If “All-Purpose Stir-Fry Sauce” doesn’t ring a bell, it will soon. This is my go-to sauce for stir-fries, marinades, stews, and much, much more. The recipe for the sauce is in the “Get Set!” section of our new Ready or Not! cookbook, but I’m spilling the beans here today because EVERYONE needs some in their kitchen arsenal. (Note: The recipe for the sauce in this recipe makes just ¼ of what I’d normally whip up, so if you’d like to use All-Purpose Stir-Fry Sauce for other purposes, do the math—or buy our cookbook!—to make a pint of the stuff.) Of course, if you’ve preordered our cookbook and downloaded the bonus thank you gifts, you already got the recipe as part of the 50-page preview of the new book!
The whole point of Ready or Not! is to arm you with easy to prepare recipes that you can whip up no matter if you’re ready to cook or not—and All-Purpose Stir-Fry Sauce is one of the insanely versatile staples that’ll make cooking a breeze. If our cookbook hadn’t already gone to print months ago, this recipe for hiyashi chūka would’ve been featured smack dab in the “Kinda Ready!” section as a prime example of how to combine pre-made ingredients to easily transform and elevate your leftovers in minutes.
If you have a bottle of All-Purpose Stir-Fry Sauce on hand and some extra Paleo Char Siu (remember how I told you last week that I’d show you how to repurpose your leftover char siu?), this recipe will take no time at all. Don’t have any char siu sitting in the fridge? No worries—just top your ramen salad with whatever veggies and meat you have lying around. I bet Wonton Meatballs or Cracklin’ Chicken would be fantastic in hiyashi chūka. Think of this as a choose-your-own-adventure meal!
A note about daikon: Yes, you need to blanch and chill the spiralized daikon to get the proper noodle texture and remove the radish-y flavor. Trust me: It’s worth the extra step. Too much work and/or can’t find daikon at the grocery store? Substitute raw zucchini instead! No excuses, bub.
Time to break out your spiralizer!
- ¼ cup coconut aminos
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1½ teaspoons rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon ghee or fat of choice
- 1 pound daikon
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters
- ½ English cucumber, cut into matchsticks
- 1 large carrot, cut into thin matchsticks with a knife or julienne peeler
- ¼ cup broccoli sprouts
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons shredded toasted nori (optional)