Mar 30
Eating ramen

The sounds of traffic were loud in my ears as Mr. Fuji pushed the button that slid open the door to the little nondescript noodle shop on a busy street of Tokyo.  A small counter curved around an open kitchen, with swiveling bar stools beneath it covered in worn looking leather-like material.  As the door slid shut behind us, the traffic outside became a muffled roar and a man behind the counter, his head swathed in a strip of patterned fabric, called out “Irasshaimase!”  We slid onto a pair of the bar stools and each ordered a bowl of ramen.  I watched in interest as the man behind the counter ladled cups of steaming hot miso broth into large bowls filled with noodles.  He slid the bowls across the counter to us, and I pulled mine close, my stomach growling hungrily.  I pulled some chopsticks out of their paper sheath, carefully broke them apart, and then surveyed my bowl.  I grabbed a couple of noodles with my chopsticks and awkwardly tried to stuff them into my mouth as broth dripped down my chip.  I tried again, with even less success, dripping broth down the front of my shirt.  I then became aware of a sound that was coming from various locations along the counter—a very distinct slurping sound.  I snuck a glance to my right.  I was sitting next to a Japanese man dressed in a dark suit.  He was propelling noodles into his mouth by efficiently slurping them from his bowl guided by his chopsticks.  I then noticed that everyone in the room was using the same technique.  I also noticed that they were managing to keep their faces and clothing clean.  I leaned over to Mr. Fuji on my left and asked him about the slurping.  He explained that unlike rules of etiquette in the US, it was ok to slurp your noodles in Japan.  In fact, slurping noodles is considered to be a sign that you are enjoying your meal.  I have since had multiple Japanese friends explain that inhaling air through slurping when eating hot noodles improves the flavor.  That first noodle experience happened a few days after we moved to Japan the first time in 2002, and was one of my first etiquette lessons in a line of many.  For a while afterward, I awkwardly and self-consciously slurped my noodles, but slowly got the hang of it until I too could eat a bowl of noodles without wearing half of it.

When we moved back to the US I realized that it would no longer be polite to enthusiastically slurp down my noodles, and so I returned to the etiquette I grew up with, doing my best to twirl my noodles around a fork  when in public.  If you ever eat noodles in our home, however, you will notice that we employ the slurping method.  When I look at a bowl of noodles I can practically hear them begging me to slurp them.


Even Squirrel is mastering it, though aren’t kids just naturally adept at noodle slurping?

Squirrel Slurps her noodles

I personally think we should start a campaign to make changes in our noodle etiquette here in the US.  I miss my public slurping.

Squirrel slurping noodles

If you need to practice your slurping for the campaign, I’m providing you with a quick and simple noodle recipe.  All you do is make some chuka soba (chow mein) noodles,

Chuka Soba

and toss them with a simple ginger scallion sauce (adapted from one of my favorite chicken recipes).

Ginger Scallion Sauce

You can eat them alone, or with some chicken or other meat.  Most recently, I served them with chicken breasts that I cut in half lengthwise, seasoned them with Chinese Five Spice Powder, salt, and pepper, and then cooked them on the grill.  If you’re on a diet, these noodles may not be the best menu choice, but if you are in need of comfort food, ginger scallion noodles are the way to go!

Ginger Scallion Slurping Noodles

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Ginger Scallion Slurping Noodles

Makes 6 servings

12 ounces dried chuka soba (chow mein) noodles
2 medium-size bunches of scallions, ends trimmed and discarded
1 4-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 teaspoons salt
10 tablespoons oil, canola or vegetable

1. Prepare the noodles according to the package directions.  Set aside.

2. In a food processor, combine the scallions, ginger, and salt.  Pulse the mixture until it is finely minced and the ingredients are well-combined.  Put the mixture in a large heat-proof bowl.

3. In a skillet or wok, heat the oil until it is slightly steamy. Immediately pour the oil over the green onion and ginger mixture, being careful to shield yourself from the hot oil in case it splatters a bit (this should crackle a bit and if it doesn’t your oil was not hot enough).  Stir.

4. Reheat the noodles if needed and then pour the ginger scallion sauce over them and toss the noodles to coat them in the sauce.

This is my entry in the 2010 Eating Your Words contest hosted by Tangled Noodle and Savor the Thyme.

Eating Your Words Badge 2010

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria March 30, 2010 at 2:17 pm

I LOVE the slurp photo! How fun! I can’t wait to make these and slurp away:)


Sara March 30, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Love the noodles and I’m starving! Now I’m dreaming of Noodles! Love your adorable daughters, they remind me of my 2 yr old niece, Serina! :)


Michelle March 30, 2010 at 2:32 pm

OH my gosh…so much slurping going on! But I love the slurpy photos which are so cute!


Sarah, Maison Cupcake March 30, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Those pictures are so cute – my 2 year old loves noodles too.


Tangled Noodle March 30, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Hooray for slurping! It’s both fun and efficient – I’m all aboard adopting slurpy foodways. I have never seen more precious photos than those of Squirrel and her noodles!

Thanks so much for joining us in Eating Your Words – even better, you’ve got the family in on the action, too! 8-)


Cookin' Canuck March 30, 2010 at 3:16 pm

I love any noodles that are supposed to be slurped! Too bad it’s not acceptable in public here. These look so simple and flavorful.


Divina March 30, 2010 at 6:08 pm

I try not to slurped my noodles but then Asians are known for slurping them even in public which means that the food is really good. Love the words you’ve created. Your daughter is adorable.


Tina @ Squirrel Acorns March 30, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Mmmm…noodles. I love noodles. Can’t wait to try these. Love those absolutely adorable photos of squirrel with her noodles! Can I ask what kind of cool monkey bowl that is? I’d love to try to find some for my kids. I feel like I’ve seen them before somewhere. (And thanks for the Jamie Food Revolution recommendation — I bought the book after reading your review and I am LOVING it so far!)


[email protected] March 30, 2010 at 7:12 pm

I make an “Asian” soup (a la Gaelle) and my children love it because they get to slurp on the noodles! They always ask for more! And nowadays, they want to try chopsticks! Will have to purchase the ones you got for your (adorable) daughter!


Fuji Nana March 30, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I wish the Italians would pick up this oh-so-practical habit. I’d sure love to slurp my fettucine alfredo. Sigh.


Caroline March 30, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I love slurping noodles and your recipe is so simple but can tell it is very tasty. The pictures of your daughter slurping away are a keeper!


Daniel@ The Food Addicts March 30, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Your daughters make the noodles look irresistible!


cocopuff1212 March 30, 2010 at 11:20 pm

This is oh-so-simple yet probably taste absolutely amazing. Why, I can already taste the noodles in my mouth! You named it “slurping noodles” so I MUST slurp them:) (And I think you’ve got the most gorgeous kids.)


Megan March 31, 2010 at 2:24 am

I laughed out loud at this, especially at that less than flattering shot of Squirrel demonstrating her slurp method??
The other reason I laugh is because Peter, having mastered the ‘slurp’ in Japan, often tries to employ this method of consuming anything noodle-like, including pasta and noodles that aren’t even in a soup. It disgusts me! I was OK with him doing it in Japan but back here in Australia I often have to say “please don’t eat the Japanese way”.


penny aka jeroxie March 31, 2010 at 4:24 am

That is brilliant. Very creative. love the photo of the word slurp


Lyndsey March 31, 2010 at 8:15 am

These certainly look fit for slurping! Yum! I must admit, if you serve noodles in miso with chopsticks are they just begging to be slurped? When I lived in Hawaii, this lady I worked with would get a cup of somen and bring it for lunch sitting there slurping. I loved it, and she wasn’t even Japanese she was Korean! :P

Your daughter is still so cute!


Bob March 31, 2010 at 10:00 am

Heh, great story. I’ve always slurped ramen, but then I’ve never eaten it in public. ;)


redkathy March 31, 2010 at 6:43 pm

My younger sister used to get in big trouble for slurping spaghetti! I thought it was funny until my boys did it! Like us, they were taught to eat properly. My youngest, who is 22 now, still slurps noodles. He’s a big ramen fan since attending college(he he he) and slurps those too. Nice Eating Your Words entry. That shot of Squirrel might just win you the prize!


the lacquer spoon March 31, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Thank you for the interesting story and recipe! ! Apart from Japanese men, the ladies appear stopping slurping because it’s embarrassing to make noise in the recent food culture. We’ll see if the slurping culture becomes the legacy of the past… ;)


Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction March 31, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Yum… I love noodles. These look so good!


Linn @ Swedish home cooking April 1, 2010 at 12:09 am

Haha, that is really fun. I like your little ‘slurp’ creation. I just started an online cooking show, Swedish Home Cooking. Please check it out!


Jenny Flake April 1, 2010 at 7:11 am

I’d like to slurp some of those noodles for sure!!!


Ling April 1, 2010 at 8:16 am

the ginger scallion sauce sounds delicious! and easy to make


Rachel J April 1, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Great story, concept, and photos! Love the one of your daughter actually slurping the noodle word, “slurp”! Growing up Italian means lots of red sauces so you can imagine the mess if we were allowed to slurp. Cheers!


Jagirdar April 1, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Elegant and simple. Hope your recipe wins in the contest. All the best!


[email protected] April 4, 2010 at 5:49 am

Rachael, this has to be one of my favourite posts on your blog! Not only does the recipe look totally do-able but also spectacularly delicious, but the pictures of Squirrel are too cute! Slurp on sista!


Nachiketa April 5, 2010 at 2:11 am

WOW!!! What lovely use of noodles… kids know how to slurrrrrppppp from the word GO….

just died lauhing at the story…. really cute :-)

Very creative entry for “Eating your Words Challenge’
The Variable – Nachiketa
Crazy Over Desserts – The Variable, Nachiketa


Brett Sutcliffe April 5, 2010 at 6:03 am

The noodles looks not too soft or hard. Thank you for sharing. Love it.


gfe--gluten free easily April 5, 2010 at 4:06 pm

What a great post and entry for the Eating Your Words challenge! Love the photos of your daughter slurping away. :-) That sauce looks amazing!



Hannah April 11, 2010 at 8:45 am

This sounds so simple and delicious- A perfect lazy Sunday dish if you ask me! I’m definitely making this tonight.


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