(serves multiple portions)
Dried Noodle Toppings are something you keep in the fridge and sprinkle over freshly cooked soup noodles to instantly transform a mundane bowl of noodles into a symphony of tastes and textures. The toppings are created from a mix of small dehydrated vegetable and seafood items which come back to life after a few seconds in hot soup. While great with instant noodles, they also go very well with oatmeal, congee or any kind of gruel. With Dried Toppings, you needn’t worry about cooking meat to go with your noodles ever again.
- Wakame (a.k.a. dried sea mustard)
a delightful bouncy seaweed which is commonly found in miso soup. It has a mild taste and mainly serves to add the texture of seaweed to your noodles.
- Nori (a.k.a. laver)
a type of crispy seaweed which is processed into paper like sheets. You have probably come across them in sushi rolls. Nori practically falls apart when it gets wet but it does provide gives the flavour of seaweed that Wakame provides the texture of seaweed lacks.
- Sakura (a.k.a. cherry shrimp)
These give your noodles that occasional something crispy and tasty to munch into. They also give your broth an undertone of seafood flavour. You can find out more about sakura on this page.
- Dried Shrimp Roe
These deepen the hint of seafood from the sakura. You can find out more about this item on this page.
- Wheat Spirals
This is a mainstay of Japanese noodles in clear soup. When hydrated, these spirals feel and taste a bit like a mini rolled up omelette. They also absorb the taste of the broth very well. These are made of gluten, so gluten-phobics be aware.
- Dried Bean Curd
These are small bits of bean curd which have been toasted till they are completely dry. They impart the balancing taste of bean curd to your soup.
- Sesame Seeds
These are a dry substitute for sesame oil. According to convention you should use white sesame if you are using whole seeds (nice crunch) and black sesame (flavours the soup) if you intend to mill them into powder.
- Dried Scallion
You can dry these out in an oven wrapped in foil or just buy them in a bottle. They add a hint of cooked onion to the soup.
- Rather than give you the exact amounts of ingredients, I’ll refer you to the picture above with all the ingredients in the right proportions.
- The two types of dried seaweed are required in larger amounts than the rest of the ingredients as you can see and they are essential for noodle toppings. All other ingredients are optional or substitutable with other dried items.
- You basically just mix all the ingredients in a bowl and them store them in a zip-loc bag or air tight box in the fridge. All the ingredients are fully dehydrated so they will keep for a long time in the fridge. If any of your ingredients come with a pouch containing drying agents when you purchased them, you should throw these into the zip-loc/box to keep all the ingredients bone dry.
- The amount suitable for a big bowl of noodles is whatever you can grab with three fingers. Do not use too much of the toppings or your noodles will get over powered. I usually put the toppings in the bowl before pouring in the noodles and soup (which would make them bottomings) so there is sufficient hot soup to hydrate them properly.
- Try not to substitute in too many items which have been preserved using salt. Otherwise, your noodles may become too salty.
- Use only small bits. Don’t substitute in dried items which are too large to rehydrate in a few seconds of boiling water. So things like whole dried mushrooms are out.
- You can buy ready mixed noodle toppings as well, at any place which sells dried Japanese goods.