Last Updated on June 3, 2023
Vegan Cold Ramen with Sesame Sauce is a vegan arrangement of the Japanese cold ramen noodles called “hiyashi chuka” with creamy sesame sauce. It’s made with easy-to-find pantry staple ingredients such as tahini, soy sauce and rice vinegar but tastes authentically Japanese. My Vegan Cold Ramen with Sesame Sauce is the perfect ramen noodles to make in hot summer days and slurp it up like the Japanese people do!
Cold Ramen (Hiyashi Chuka)
“Hiyashi-Chuka” is a Japanese word for cold ramen. Actually, the direct translation would be a bit more than just “cold ramen.”
“Hiyashi [冷やし]” (pronunciation: hee-yah-shi) means “cold” and “chuka [中華]” (pronunciation: choo-ka) means “Chinese style noodles” in other words, ramen noodles. So, to put them altogether, it’s cold ramen.
The Japanese people tend to eat a a variety of cold noodles in summer such as cold somen noodles. By the same token, hiyashi chuka is another cold noodle dish that’s very popular during the toasty days of summer. Generally speaking, the Japanese people cherish the four seasons especially with food. In other words, we celebrate every season with the seasonal food to enjoy or in some cases, to survive the weather.
I know it sounds way too dramatic to think of eating cold ramen “to survive” the weather. LOL. But, it’s so true. You’d know if you’ve ever lived or visited there to experience the harsh summer humidity and the heat. The climate would make you crave nothing but cold noodles.
To fight the humidity, cold ramen (hiyashi chuka) would be perfect!
Different types of cold ramen (hiyashi chuka)
There are many different flavors of cold ramen (hiyashi chuka) dishes that you can make. They all have one thing in common which is the use of ramen noodles (alkaline noodles.) So, what makes them different from one another is the type of sauce to go with.
The most common two flavors of hiyashi chuka are:
- Soy-sauce-based sauce (Shoyu-dare [醤油だれ])
- Sesame-based sauce (Goma-dare [胡麻だれ)
As mentioned, there are many other variations but the two above are the most popular ones that you can find anywhere.
Just like any other ramen, traditional hiyashi chuka is not vegan due to the use of animal/fish ingredients in the sauce or the noodles. Besides that, typical toppings are mostly vegan-friendly; cucumber, tomatoes, and scallions…just to name a few.
In this recipe, I feature the sesame-based sauce with all traditional vegan-friendly toppings! The result is absolutely delicious and tastes authentic!
Vegan Cold Ramen with Sesame Sauce
Authentic cold ramen can’t be “truly” authentic without the authentic ramen noodles.
For a long time, I would look for vegan-friendly ramen noodles that are authentic in both taste and the texture. But ever since I discovered Sun Noodles, I’ve never looked for anything else! They have great tasting vegan-friendly ramen that you can buy either at stores or online. The only drawback, at least for me, is their ramen noodles aren’t organic. But for the authentic taste, it’s definitely worth buying!
As of 2022, Sun Noodles carry three different vegan-friendly ramen kits as well as “kaedama [替え玉]” which are noodles only. I mostly use the kaedama to make my homemade vegan ramen.
In this recipe, I use the Kaedama which has a perfect texture to pick up the creamy sesame sauce! If it’s available in where you live, I highly recommend using their noodles for this vegan cold ramen.
If you can’t find one, substitute with something similar. My advise would be to use fresh & chewy ramen noodles which work the best for this dish. But it has to be RAMEN noodles to make cold ramen or hiyashi chuka. No udon and soba, please!
The Sesame Sauce
When I was making this recipe, I had one thing in mind.
To make an authentic cold ramen recipe that’s easy and made with the ingredients that are accessible to most people.
I often advocate the importance of using “real” Japanese ingredients to make Japanese recipes — for the authentic taste to enhance the whole experience. But, I’ve noticed that people are interested in making vegan Japanese noodles that are not so complicated and made with ingredients that you can easily find anywhere.
The perfect example is my somen noodle recipe!
So, I got a hint from there and applied it to this cold ramen recipe. As a result, it turned out to be the hiyashi chuka with sesame sauce that I remember eating back home. And, just as important as the taste, it’s super easy to make!
Here is what I use to make the sesame sauce:
- Soy Sauce
- Cane Sugar
- Toasted Sesame Oil
- Rice Vinegar
It tastes, savory, creamy, slightly tangy & sweet. The best of all, you can easily find all those ingredients with no doubt! Or, perhaps, you’ve already have them in your kitchen.
The Key Toppings
To make this cold ramen as authentic as possible and vegan-friendly, I use the followings:
- Kizami Nori (shredded nori) *not shown in the photo below
Just like the ingredients for the sesame sauce, the key toppings are also very easy to find.
Okay, you may say “what about kizami nori?”
Don’t worry! If you can find any nori seaweed sheet (the same one to make sushi), just shred them with kitchen scissors. More on how to make kizami nori, see the Kizami Nori (Shredded Nori) on my Vegan Japanese Pantry Guide!
Be sure to check out the “Step-by-Step Instructions (w/ Photos)” after the Printable Recipe!
Vegan Cold Ramen with Sesame Sauce
- 3 tbsp tahini
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp cane sugar
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 tbsp grated ginger
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 3 tbsp purified water
- 2 servings uncooked ramen noodles of your choice I use “Ramen Kaedama” from Sun Noodles
- 2 qt water adjust accordingly to your choice of ramen noodles
- 2 oz English or Japanese cucumber any seedless cucumber of your choice, julienned
- 2-3 cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 scallion thinly sliced or julienned
- Kizami nori (shredded nori) to taste
- Toasted sesame seeds to taste
Optional Topping Suggestions
- Rayu Japanese chili oil
- Spicy sprouts
- Cooked tofu
- Prepare the sesame sauce. In a large prep bowl, combine tahini, soy sauce, cane sugar and toasted sesame oil. Mix well until well-blended. Then, add grated ginger, rice vinegar and purified water. Mix again until well-blended. Keep it the fridge until assembling.
- Start boiling water in a large pot for cooking ramen noodles.
- In the meantime, prepare all the toppings ready and set them aside.
- Once the water is boiling, start cooking ramen noodles according to the instruction on the package. Use a colander to drain then rinse under running water to remove starch. Shake off the excess water very well.
- Take out the sesame sauce from the fridge. Transfer the ramen noodles to the bowl. Give a quick toss to coat the noodles with the sauce.
- To serve, transfer the noodles to a serving bowl. Top it with cucumber, tomatoes, scallion, and shredded nori. Add some optional toppings of your choice.
- Be sure to use tahini that’s made with roasted sesame seeds for more complex flavor.
- Alternatively, Japanese neri goma (toasted sesame seed paste) is great for this recipe!
Choice of Ramen Noodles
- Use any ramen noodles of your choice.
- I use Kaedam from Sun Noodles. I love the chewy texture and the authentic ramen noodle taste! Highly recommend it.
- Use seedless cucumber such as English (European) cucumber or Japanese cucumber called kyuri.
- The Japanese cucumber is crunchier than typical English cucumber. It’s delicious!
- I use cherry tomatoes but you can use any other tomatoes of your choice.
- Kizami nori is Japanese shredded nori.
- If you don’t have kizami nori, you can shred sushi nori seaweed with kitchen scissors.
- See more information on Kizami Nori (Shredded Nori) on Vegan Japanese Pantry Guide.
- Rayu (Japanese chili oil) adds a spicy kick plus the aroma and richness.
- Spicy sprouts such as daikon radish sprouts are fantastic for extra fresh bites.
- Cooked tofu would be great for adding some protein.
Step-by-Step Instructions (w/ Photos)
1. Prepare the sesame sauce. In a large prep bowl, combine tahini, soy sauce, cane sugar and toasted sesame oil.
Mix well until well-blended.
Then, add grated ginger, rice vinegar and purified water.
Mix again until well-blended. Keep it the fridge until assembling.
2. Start boiling water in a large pot for cooking ramen noodles.
3. In the meantime, prepare all the toppings ready and set them aside.
4. Once the water is boiling, start cooking ramen noodles according to the instruction on the package.
Use a colander to drain then rinse under running water to remove starch.
Shake off the excess water very well.
5. Take out the sesame sauce from the fridge. Transfer the ramen noodles to the bowl.
Give a quick toss to coat the noodles with the sauce.
6. To serve, transfer the noodles to a serving bowl. Top it with cucumber, tomatoes, scallion, and shredded nori. Add some optional toppings of your choice.
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