Here’s a delightfully different kind of homemade pasta that I discovered at a neighborhood noodle shop when I lived in Ogikubo in Tokyo. The recent appearance of Japanese citron oil in most Oriental groceries has encouraged me to develop this recipe for fellow Americans. Although there’s a subtle and wonderful difference between yuzu (Japanese citron) and the American lemon, the zest and juice of the latter makes a delicious seasoning for the noodle dough, too. The Japanese eat noodles such as these as a snack, though you may find them more useful as a refreshing starch accompaniment to a hot-weather meal.
In a shallow bowl, mix the flours thoroughly, then form a mound from them. Make a well in the center of the mound and break the egg into it. Add the citron oil and salt over the egg, and with a fork (or chopsticks) gently scramble the egg. Continue the scrambling motions, incorporating a bit of flour from the sides of the well as you go. Gradually beat in the flour to make a dough. (If using the plain vegetable-oil-and-lemon combination, incorporate the oil first before adding the juice and zest.)
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured board and knead it with the palms of the hands for a few minutes, until smooth and somewhat elastic. The dough should be the consistency that the Japanese call mimi tabu or “earlobe.” Gently pinch the dough, then the soft, thick pad of your earlobe; they should feel about the same. Using a manual pasta machine, roll the noodle dough out to a thickness of
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the noodles, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Strain the noodles immediately and shower them with fresh cold water. Drain well. If you wish to make and cook the noodles in advance, you’ll need to shower them quickly in cold water again just before serving. Drain immediately.
The Japanese usually serve these noodles on woven or slatted mats with plates beneath. Large glass salad bowls make an attractive alternative. Garnish the cold noodles with seaweed strips just before serving. Chilled dipping sauce is served separately on the side. Each person lifts noodles from the plate or bowl and dips them in the sauce. Slurping from the dip dish held directly beneath your chin is the easiest, most authentic, and most fun way to eat them.
© 1985 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.