The summer in Japan is brutally hot. The temperature usually stays below your body temperature, however, the humidity is unbearable, averaging over 70 % in the hottest months. With the rainy season of June, Japan is in the subtropical climate zone. It is like to be in a permanent sauna!
Do we feel unwell because of the heat? Sure we do. We have a word, Natsubate translated as ‘summer fatigue’.
You may feel physically tired, lose your appetite and have trouble sleeping. If you feel those symptoms, it is likely that you have Natsubate.
Natsubate is the consequence of hot temperatures and humidity during summer. Air conditioning doesn’t help much. In recent times, it has been said that Natubate happens not only due to the heat but also to the overuse of air conditioning.
It is very important to take care of yourself with healthy life style and good nutrition.
I used to lose appetite during the hot months and only food I could manage was cold noodles. My favorite was and still is cold soba noodles but it is mainly carbohydrates. To add a bit more nutrients, I like this dish; Hiyashi Chuka to serve my family.
Hiyachi Chuka literally means “chilled Chinese”; however, it is a Japanese dish with chilled egg noodles and various colorful toppings. Popular toppings include strips of egg crepes, cucumber, ham, and crab sticks. Soy sauce or sesame based dressing is poured over the noodles and toppings.
In Japan, you can get fresh egg noodles suitable for this dish. I used to think it is not possible to enjoy Hiyashi Chuka without these noodles, but recently, I discovered that you can use dry noodles available from local supermarkets.
I use fine noodles like this one.
All you have to do is cook noodles according to the package instructions, drain and rinse with cold water. Drain water well and place noodles in a large bowl. Place any toppings you fancy. I like adding vegetables, too and often serve it with cooked bean sprouts, green beans, mangetout and corn kernels. Here, I also added steamed chicken breast.
For sauce: to serve one
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 Tbsp rice wine or white wine
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp white sesame seeds (roasted/toasted)
1/2 Tbsp English mustard
You can be creative and add a bit of chilli sauce, ginger, coriander etc.
It is colourful, nutritious and easy to make. The flagrant sesame oil and vinegar stimulates appetite and you will recover from Natsubate in no time.
I have this distant memory of having this noodle dish with my mum. It was at a tiny restaurant in my home town many years ago. I don’t remember what we were doing on that day, which restaurant it was or why we ended up there. It wasn’t remarkably tasty noodles either. I just remember me, my mum and Hiyashi Chuka. Now my mother has terminal illness and permanently in hospital, I sometimes think of these little things.
I heard that it would be a very hot summer this year in Japan.