Okinawa Cooking, Part 3 of 3: Simple Champuru

Ingredients:
somen
ginger, shiso (leafy greens),
spring onions or chive,
katsuobushi (dried fish
flakes), ponzu soy sauce,
sesame oil, koregusu

C hampuru is one of Okinawa’s more famous dishes. The name changes depending on the mix of ingredients, such as tofu, a variety of vegetables or pork. Varieties include goya champuru, mamina champuru and moyashi chanpuru, to name a few; some even use wheat gluten.

Somin in the local dialect refers to what Japanese mainlanders call somen and is a noodle most often served ice cold during the summer months. However, in Okinawa it is best known as a base ingredient in champuru.

For this particular recipe, I’ve boiled down the basic somin champuru style to make it even easier to cook and give it a lighter feel. In order to cut down on ingredients to pack, I’ve reduced the amount of tofu used, but it is important to note that the dish isn’t considered champuru without a bit of tofu.

For those with a strict penchant for bean curd, I recommend cutting the tofu into small cubes. Meat lovers can use ham as well.

Although we’re giving this dish a light flavor, we’ll be using sesame seed oil for the aroma and to keep in line with a somewhat traditional champuru taste. Incidentally, it is worth noting champuru is Malay for “mix together” and is a great example of how the Southeast Asian influence has worked its way into Okinawa

Lastly, we throw in a bit of koregusu, a local specialty made by pickling hot peppers in awamori, the famous Okinawa liquor. All restaurants and soba houses in Okinawa prominently feature this extremely spicy topping on the table. One or two drops of the liquid lava is enough to add just the right flavor so, although locals may pour this on liberally, beginners should beware.

Finely mince the ginger, shiso, onions and spices.
Boil the somen and strain thoroughly.

Mix the sesame oil and ponzu soy sauce into the somen, then add the prepared mixture and top with katsuobushi. Add just enough koregusu to make things interesting.