food hawaii

Saimin Noodles

Saimin is a quick and satisfiying culinary treat

A bowl of saimin from Hamura's
Saimin is to Hawaii what a microwave pizza is to folks on the mainland.

A Quick and Satisfying Culinary Fix

Unsure about how to eat all those delectable noodles floating around in the broth? Use chopsticks (or a fork, if you’re hopelessly Westernized) to pick up the noodles and other foods, then lay them in the spoon, collect a little broth and sip. It’s also considered okay to drink the soup straight from the bowl, as long as you can do it neatly.

In Hawai’i, we eat our saimin quietly. When you’re in Japan, though, ask for ramen and just slurp that soup; eating it noisily is considered an expression of appreciation.

A few ambitious cooks make this noodle soup from scratch, but most of us just rip open the ready-mix package, add hot water, stir in the contents of the seasonings packet, pull out the chopsticks and soup spoon, and dig in.

That’s a simple way, but it’s slothful. (We know of many bachelors who stand at their stovetop and eat right out of the pot. That’s a no-no.)

Packages of Top Ramen noodles
Quick and easy, just add hot water and enjoy

To raise yourself above the petty ranks, take just two more steps:

Add goodies. Cut carrots, tofu, fishcake, Spam, chives, the chopped up remains of last night’s salad, a little scrambled eggs, leftover fish, meat, chicken, seafood, etc. Just like your grandmother did with her stews, this soup provides a great opportunity to clear the fridge of leftovers.

Present the saimin attractively. Really, it only takes a moment to use (or wash) a pretty bowl or to position it nicely on an attractive placemat. Flowers will designate you as “world-class.” You might find that how food is presented plays a large part in how it tastes.

Hawaii Saimin Recipe

  • 4 quarts water 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 (8-ounce) package dried Japanese soba noodles
  • 4 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Toppings (see suggestions below)

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add 4 quarts of water and salt; bring to a boil. Add soba noodles and boil 4 to 6 minutes until al dente. Remove from heat, drain, and rinse under warm, running water.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add chicken broth and ginger; bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add soy sauce and your favorite toppings; simmer for 5 minutes longer or until toppings are cooked. Remove from heat.

Place cooked soba noodles in a large soup bowl; spoon broth mixture (with toppings) over the top and serve.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Add the toppings you prefer.