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Tofu noodles in cold miso soup “hiyajiru” – browned miso and ground sesame seeds create a rich, satisfying flavor!


“Hiyajiru” is a cold miso soup fish originated in Miyazaki prefecture of Japan. The traditional hiyajiru uses rice mixed with barley instead of noodles and usually has grilled fish inside.

Today, I’m making a vegan version of hiyajiru with my favorite gluten-free and low-carb tofu somen noodles!

You may all be very familiar with miso soup, but hiyajiru – cold miso soup – is not simply a chilled version of miso soup! There are three elements that make hiyajiru a special kind of cold miso soup: browned miso, ground sesame seeds and fresh vegetables.

First, prepare two of the toppings – cucumber and tofu. Slice 1 Japanese cucumber and mix in 1 tsp of shio-koji. Set aside for at least 30 min so the cucumber slices get pickled a bit. Crumble 1 small pack firm tofu with hands and leave them on paper towels. This ensures that the tofu crumbles are not too soggy when put in hiyajiru at the end.

Second, prepare the miso paste. The traditional hiyajiru uses mugi (barley) miso, which is what I’m using here also. You can use regular miso, but mugi miso is sweeter than the regular miso, so the resulting hiyajiru would be a bit on the saltier side with regular miso.

Place 2 Tbsp mugi miso on a pan and brown on low heat. You only want to brown it to give it a smoky flavor, so be careful not to burn it!

To mix with this browned miso, grind 2 Tbsp of roasted white sesame seeds. It’s best to freshly grind sesame seeds rather than buy a ground product. Grinding with a traditional Japanese grinder is fine if I’m grinding a small quantity for a salad or something, but it would be an arduous task to finely grind two tablespoons of sesame seeds… Luckily, there is a modern method – an electric spice grinder – and it works great!

To make the soup, mix browned miso, roasted sesame seeds and 2 cups of chilled vegan dashi stock. Mix well so there is no lumps of miso or sesame seeds. That’s it!

For other toppings, two kinds of fresh Japanese herbs are used: 2 green shiso leaves (大葉or Ooba) and 1 Japanese ginger (みょうが or myoga). They may not be so widely available outside of Japan, but when used in cold dishes, they produce such refreshing smell and the taste really reminds us of “Japanese summer.”

To slice green shiso leaves, roll them up like a cigar first then slice. Julienne Japanese ginger.

Now, pour cold miso soup over drained tofu somen noodles and top it with pickled cucumber slices, crumbled tofu and fresh Japanese herbs. This dish is quite easy to make, requiring heat only to brown miso, and the combination of a rich flavor of browned miso & ground sesame seeds and a refreshing taste of fresh vegetables makes this dish a perfect lunch dish for summer!

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