Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tsukemen つけ麺

One of my recent food infatuations is tsukemen which is similar to ramen but the noodles are served separate from the soup. Tsukemen literally means dipping noodles so as you eat, the noodles are dipped into the soup broth with each bite. Tsukemen often has a thicker noodle then its ramen cousin, however some restaurants let you choose the size and amount of the noodles. The noodles are served either cold or hot, while the soup is always hot and is a meat or fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso and uses toppings such as sliced pork, dried seaweed, kamaboko, leeks and bamboo-shoots. Almost every locality in Japan has its own variation of tsukemen and ramen, from the tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen of Kyūshū to the miso ramen of Hokkaidō. As tsukemen broth is used for dipping, it is actually much thicker and flavorful then ramen. After eating the noodles some extra broth can be added to dilute the sauce which is then consumed like soup. Japanese consume tsukemen, and ramen, with almost alarming speed and the best ramen shops have a chorus of "ZuZoZ0Z0" as the enthusiastic patrons suck the noodles from their chopsticks. Oh, as a word of warning the dipping sauce often goes flying everywhere - at least when I eat it. When you are done drinking the soup, exhale and it should sound like "PUHAaaaa." Tasty!

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