homecooking: Nebaneba Hiyashi Udon with Black ‘Kuromame’ Natto, Nagaimo and Okra and Grilled Sawara and Mizunasu Tsukemono
In Kyoto summer is here! It’s time for cold noodles and vegetables.
Natto: Have you heard about natto? Natto is fermented soybeans which due its pungent smell has many detractors. Many people dislike, some even hate natto. But here at KyotoFoodie, we think that good natto is a wonderful thing! In addition to its ‘challenging’ smell, natto is very ‘nebaneba‘, meaning ‘sticky’ and ‘stringy’. Like, sticky in a way that you have probably never experienced! And, in Japanese cuisine there are a number of ingredients that are sticky and gooey, we combine several here for a yummy, healthy and cooling summer noodle meal.
Nebaneba Hiyashi Udon with Natto, Nagaimo and Okra is one of Paku’s original creations that Peko absolutely LOVES! There are many ‘hiyashi‘, chilled noodle dishes in Japan, but this is a masterpiece! Sawara with Minty Miso Glaze Peko made with some inspiration from Marc. Paku was dubious about mint and cilantro flavored miso but loved it! Mizunasu is a kind of early summer tsukemono in which fresh, young eggplant are lightly picked in saltwater and served chilled. This all goes really well with beer!
Natto and Nagaimo
Natto and nagaimo (Japanese mountain yam) are generally available in Western countries now, so we hope that you will give this one a try. Some natto, especially the ‘cheap’ stuff we don’t like. You probably cannot get kuromame (black bean) natto abroad but in our experience, the bigger the beans in the natto, the better it tastes. Also, don’t make too much of the reputed smell of natto, natto, especially modern natto is not that smelly. Western cheeses are far more pungent than natto.
Here are the ingredients and basic preparation methods. As with all our homecooking articles here on KyotoFoodie, we just give you the basic idea and as you are all foodies, you can adapt and refine for your tastes. If you haven’t used tsuyu before check if you need to dilute it with water and of course, follow the instructions or your noodles could be far too salty. The photos below illustrate the process and steps.
Nebaneba Hiyashi Udon with Natto, Nagaimo and Okra
- nagaimo (or yamaimo) about 10-15cm, wash or peel and grate
- okra 10-12, blanch in salt water, rinse to cool and slice
- natto 2-3 packages
- scallion 5 chopped
- udon boil and chill (‘fresh’ udon is preferred but high-quality dried udon will work fine too)
- tsuyu 1/2 cup per serving (dashi broth with soy sauce)
- egg yolk 1 per serving (optional)
- shiso leaf (optional)
- jyako (optional)
Boil the udon, rinse well with cold water. Prepare the other indgredients.
Serving: In a large bowl, place several ice cubes. Place the udon noodles over the ice cubes and add the other ingredients in layers. Grated nagaimo goes down first, then well stirred natto. The veggies go on next, if you like raw egg add a single yolk. Finally pour on tsuyu and serve. The noodles should be well chilled when they go into the bowl and by the time it is eaten, the ice cubes should be almost completely melted.
Sawara with Minty Miso Glaze
- sawara (Spanish mackerel)
- fresh mint
- fresh cilantro
- miso paste (white, light, sweet recommended) 3-4 tablespoons
- sake or cooking sake (ryori shu) 2 tablespoons
- mirin 2 tablespoons
Finely chop the mint and cilantro and combine with miso, sake and mirin into a creamy consistency. Save some chopped mint and cilantro for garnish. Marinade the sawara or similar fish for 12-24 hours. Before grilling, wipe off excess miso marinade. When cooking, excessive heat will cause the miso glaze to burn.
Although we bought our mizunasu it is not difficult to make. We can find a recipe if anyone is interested. It ought to be quite simple; it is eggplant, salt and water.
The ‘Nebaneba’ Ingredients
Natto, nagaimo and okra are stringy, sticky, gooey – not to mention very healthy and delicious! In the liquid-filled plastic bag in the center is mizunasu tsukemono, literally ‘water eggplant’.
Ingredients for Sawara with Minty Miso Glaze
This was inspired by Marc’s Salmon with a minty miso glaze and uses sawara (Spanish mackerel) which is in season now.
I (Peko) sometimes don’t peel it, I just scrub it vigorously and that removes all the yucky stuff. I think that Japanese always peel it though.
Grating nagaimo is kind of enjoyable. It’s like the proverbrial hot knife though butter.
Two small packets of mustard and soy sauce are included.
Kuromame ‘Black Bean’ Natto
Ice Cold Udon Noodles
Cold udon in often served with a few chunks of ice in the summer.
Pouring on the Grated Nagaimo
A Final Stir of the Natto
Adding the Natto
The Masterpeice! All the Toppings and Tsuyu
On the left, okra, on the top and bottom is kuromame natto, on the right scallions and in the middle an egg yolk. Around the egg yolk Paku sprinkled jyako (tiny dried, seasoned fish fry) and finally a few tablespoons of tsuyu (cold noodle dipping sauce) is poured on. Tsuyu is just dashi with a fair amount of shoyu (soy sauce).
Dinner is Served
Nebaneba cold udon, minty miso glaze grilled sawara, mizunasu tsukemono and of course Japan’s best beer; Yebisu. This makes for a mighty fine summer dinner!
Eating Nebaneba Cold Udon – Stir Well and Gobble
Eating Nebaneba Cold Udon
Eating Nebaneba Cold Udon