「冷やし中華はじめました！！」 appears in the windows of Japanese noodle houses at the start of spring, welcoming the arrival of warmer weather. While the cooler months call for steaming hot bowls of ramen and broth, this refreshing dish of chilled ramen is the perfect noodle fix when the mercury rises.
Toppings for this Japanese noodle salad vary, with popular choices being ham, prawn, sliced tamago omelette, roast pork, cucumber, sweet corn, pickled ginger and tomato, making it a very versatile dish, great for clearing out the fridge at the end of the week. Typically dressed in a simple, soy based ta-re dressing, you can mix it up by adding roasted sesame paste for a deliciously fragrant and creamy sauce. Sesame dressing can also be purchased pre-made from Asian grocers.
So here’s my preferred version of an indulgent Hiyashi Chuka, topped with smoked salmon and sesame dressing.
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 300g ramen noodles (buy packaged fresh yakisoba noodles to reduce cooking time)
- 1 medium tomato, cut into 8 wedges
- 1 small lebanese cucumber, cut into batons
- 3/4 cup sweet corn kernels
- 150g smoked salmon
- red pickled ginger
- sesame seeds, lightly toasted
- wakame rice seasoning
Dressing (can be purchased pre-made)
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tsp mirin seasoning
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1tsp roasted sesame paste
- Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet, then refresh in cold water and chill in the fridge until required.
- Divide noodles between 2 plates, then add toppings.
- To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk with a fork to combine.
- Top noodles with dressing to serve.
Just minutes from South Yarra’s busy shopping strip, historic Como House provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of inner city living, the grand colonial mansion easily envisioned as an elegant backdrop for a relaxed afternoon tea and surrounding tranquil gardens a perfect setting for a picnic in the sun. Which is exactly what the team behind east-side favourites Friends of Mine, Snow Pony and Porgie & Mr Jones was thinking when it transformed the old stables building into a new cafe. So it’s time for a country retreat! Dress well, bring your best handbag and be prepared to be seen with the beautiful people (I’m quite serious about that…)
Bright and welcoming, The Stables of Como effortlessly combines old-school country charm and clean modern design, the airy, white-painted interior furnished with white bentwood chairs set against rustic timber tables, adorned with fresh cut flowers. The eyes are immediately drawn to a worn, pale green timber counter, spanning the length of the room, upon which an impressive array of sweets is tantalisingly displayed; buttery croissants and danishes, cupcakes, home-made slices and tarts, wagon wheels, pale pink musk sticks and light, fluffy lemonade scones, served with whipped cream and cute mini jars of Bonne Maman jam.
It’s not all about dessert however, and The Stables delivers a solid menu, making use of free range, organic and local produce, with herbs and vegetables from the Como garden. Breakfast staples are served all day; smoked Echuca bacon, hand-carved ham off the bone, emmental cheese, ever-popular smashed avocado, thyme buttered mushrooms and ‘eggs from happy chickens’, served on toasted muffins, fresh croissants or Noisette bread.
Picnic-friendly lunch options include gourmet sandwiches, baguettes, wholesome salads, classic quiche lorraine, cheese and bread boards and ploughman’s lunches, while those dining in should definitely give the entree- and main-style plates a go. Hickory smoked salmon is prepared in-house, served with blini, herbed creme fraiche and Yarra Valley salmon roe adding bursts of salts, while bruschetta is a blank canvas for showcasing seasonal vegetables grown in the garden. Prosecco adds a delicate acidity to a spanner crab and fennel risotto with herbed mascarpone, cutting through the richness. Roasted lamb loin is also sure to please, perfectly pink with a smoky chermoula crust and served with a light quinoa, smoked almond, sumac and red grape salad.
A forest green espresso machine pops against the sparkling white tiles of the kitchen and delivers consistent coffees. Also available are milkshakes served in old-school metal cups, well-spiced, brewed chai, organic orange juice and Berocca if you’re in real need of a morning pick-me-up.
This weekend, Como House plays host to the 4th Paris to Provence French Festival. The Stables will be featuring a smaller, French-themed menu for the occasion; pop in for a light breakfast before heading into the gardens to join in the festivities celebrating the best of France. With Madame Sousou serving mitraillette and champagne, pop up crepe vendors, chocolates from Monsieur Truffe and cheese, pastries and macarons galore, do be sure to leave to a bit of room for grazing (particularly if snail eating contests are up your alley).