Harusame salad is a colorful and nutritious salad dish made with glass noodles, egg crepe, crab and vegetables tossed in a light and tangy sauce. It’s refreshing, tasty and can be made ahead of time!
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What is harusame salad?
Harusame salad (春雨サラダ) is a simple dish made by mixing shredded crab and julienned vegetables with glass noodles and a thinly sliced Japanese egg crepe called “kinshi tamago”.
The ingredients are mixed in a tangy sauce with a soy sauce and vinegar base. Harusame salad is served cold, it’s a refreshing dish and perfect for hot days!
Glass noodles and Japanese culture
“Harusame” or “glass noodles” in English, are a type of thin, transparent noodle originating from China. It is believed that they came to Japan during Kamakura period (1180-1336).
The kanji (Chinese characters) for harusame are 春 (spring) and 雨 (rain). The name “harusame” is said to have been given to these noodles because of their thin, transparent appearance that reminds one of the rainsdrops of a spring shower.
While Chinese glass noodles are generally made from mung bean starch, Japanese glass noodles are more commonly made from sweet potato starch. Harusame are thin, therefore they cook quickly. In fact, in some cases you don’t even need to cook them at all, they can simply be soaked in warm water for a few minutes to soften them before adding them to dishes.
In Japan, Nara Prefecture is the main producer, with Sakurai and Gosho cities accounting for about 60% of national production.
Chuka-fu harusame salad
It could be because of the origin of the glass noodles, but most harusame salads in Japan are referred to as “chuka-fu”, which means Chinese style. Like anywhere else, Chinese cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines and has a long history in Japan.
A legendary Chinese Japanese chef called Chén Jiànmín started to make a lot of Chinese dish spin-offs where he took the essence of Chinese dishes and adjusted them to suit Japanese tastes.
Following are some examples of chuka dishes:
- Tantanmen (ramen in a spicy sesame soup)
- Ebi Chilli (shrimps in chili sauce)
- Ebi Mayo (battered shrimps in mayonnaise sauce)
- Subuta (sweet and sour pork)
- Chinjao Rosu (pepper steak stir fry)
Japanese chuka dishes are usually flavoured with Chinese seasonings and condiments such as Chinese chicken stock (garasupu), tobanjan (Szechuan chili bean paste) and tenmenjan (sweet soy bean sauce similar to Hoisin).
Therefore, chuka-fu harusame salad is “glass noodle salad with Chinese style seasonings and flavour”.
Harusame Salad Ingredients
Harusame salad is actually so popular that it’s served at school lunch, I remember having it at school when I was a kid and loving it. So, I tried to recreate that taste that I liked back then with a more sophisticated flavor.
Here are the ingredients you will need to make my harusame salad:
- Glass noodles – these thin, light noodles are perfect for salads and cold noodle dishes. Cook according to the instructions on packaging and then rinse with cold water to chill.
- Cucumber – I use Japanese cucumber, but Persian cucumbers are a good substitute. If using larger varieties such as English cucumber, scoop the seeds out first to ensure your salad doesn’t become too watery.
- Carrot – Adds a firm crunch to the dish, cut thinly so that they blend well into the rest of the salad!
- Fresh ginger – the aroma of ginger helps increase the appetite on hot days. Again, it’s sliced thin so that it doesn’t become too overpowering in the dish.
- Wood ear mushroom – I often use dry wood ear mushrooms and then soak them in water to rehydrate them, but fresh is fine too! Whether you use fresh or dried, they should be blanched in boiling water for 1-2 minutes unless the packaging states otherwise.
- Imitation crab – I like the way it shreds so thinly that it mixes into the salad seamlessly. Alternatively, you can use thin strips of ham or even shrimp.
- Kinshi tamago – a golden Japanese egg crepe cut into thin strips gives a similar texture to noodles. (Scroll down to see more info and how to make it!)
Harusame Salad Sauce
The sauce used for harusame salad should be flavourful and refreshing, and I think I found the perfect combination!
- Soy sauce – the base flavour that provides the saltiness and umami.
- Rice vinegar – adds sourness which makes the sauce refreshing. Can be substituted with apple cider vinegar or similar.
- Sugar – for sweetness to balance the other flavours.
- “Karashi” (Japanese mustard) – adds a spicy hint. English “Colman’s mustard” also works well, or if you prefer a milder taste you can omit.
- Sesame oil – helps the dressing coat the salad and adds a nutty hint.
- Chinese chicken bouillon powder – For depth and umami.
This sauce can be whipped up in a minute, just mix it in a bowl and voila!
How to make Harusame Salad
Harusame salad requires quite a lot of ingredients, but don’t let that put you off! It’s easy to put together and packed with nutrients. Here is my step-by-step recipe including an easy 1-minute dressing!
Prepare the ingredients
Start by washing the cucumber and peeling the carrot. Cut them in thin diagonal slices to increase the surface area.
Scrape the skin off the ginger and then thinly slice. Julienne (cut into thin sticks) the ginger, cucumber and carrot about 2-3mm thick.
Add them to a bowl and add a sprinkle of salt. Massage the salt over the surface to make sure it’s evenly distributed and then rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.
This step draws out the water in the cucumber and softens the taste of the ginger.
Boil the wood ear mushrooms for 1-2 minutes and then cut them into thin slices. If you’re using dried wood ear mushrooms, you can soak them now, then boil and slice them later.
Whether you are using fresh or dried wood ear mushrooms, it’s important to blanch them for 1-2 minutes in boiling water to kill any harmful bacteria.
Take a small bowl and add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, Japanese mustard, sesame oil, sesame seeds and Chinese chicken stock powder. Mix until the sugar and stock powder have dissolved.
Once everything is prepared, we can move on to making the kinshi tamago.
How to make kinshi tamago
Kinshi tamago is a thinly egg crepe that is cut into strips that slightly resemble noodles. The name comes from its resemblance to brocade in ‘woven’ textiles. It is mainly used in dishes such as chirashizushi and hiyashi chuka.
Take a medium sized frying pan (I use 22cm pan) and preheat over a medium-low heat. Use a paper towel to spread the oil around the pan. This will spread the oil evenly and remove any excess which will ensure the surface of the egg is cooked beautifully without spots.
Crack the eggs into a bowl with a pinch of salt and whisk until the yolks and whites are combined.
This is an important step to make a smooth kinshi tamago. Without straining through a mesh sieve, the finished kinshi tamago will be marbled in yellow and white instead of smooth yellow colour. It also helps remove foam and air bubbles!
Pour the mixture into the pan, making sure it’s a thin and even layer. One 22cm frying pan will make one egg’s worth of kinshi tamago so you will need to cook them in batches (or use a bigger pan) when using multiple eggs.
Don’t be tempted to pour all of the egg into the pan to save time, otherwise it will become too thick!
Cook the egg until 80% done, there’s no need to flip it. This will prevent overcooking since egg continues to cook with the residual heat. It will also prevent burning and keep the texture flexible so we can roll it for the next step.
Peel the kinshi tamago out of the pan, being careful not to rip it. Let it cool for a few minutes and then roll it up and thinly slice it.
Kinshi tamago can be used in a range of salad and rice dishes. It’s also great for bentos!
Make the salad
Cook the glass noodles according to the instructions on the packaging. Some need to be cooked in boiling water for a few minutes, but in my case, I only needed to soak them in warm water.
Pour the noodles into a sieve and rinse with cold running water to cool them down. You can add a couple of ice cubes if you want them to be extra cold. (Don’t refrigerate, this will dry them out and make them stick together.)
Take the bowl of cucumber, carrot and ginger from earlier and pour out any liquid that might have accumulated at the bottom. Transfer them to a new, larger mixing bowl and add the noodles, kinshi tamago and wood ear mushroom. Mix thoroughly, but gently so you don’t break the egg.
Shred the imitation crab and add it to the bowl, then pour in the sauce and mix again.
Mix until all the ingredients are evenly coated with the sauce.
Transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle with a few sesame seeds for the final touch.
Leftover harusame salad can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The sauce will sink to the bottom so be sure to mix before eating, and opt for an air tight container to stop the noodles from drying out.
I hope you enjoyed this colourful and flavourful harusame salad, perfect for summer! If you tried the recipe, I’d love to know what you think. Leave a comment and star rating below, thank you so much!
Harusame Salad (Chuka style glass noodle salad)
- 50 g Japanese or Persian cucumber(s) Japanese or Persian
- 50 g carrot(s)
- 5 g fresh ginger peeled
- ¼ tsp salt
- 50 g thin glass noodles
- 1 fresh wood ear mushroom(s) or 5g dried and rehydrated blanched 1-2 mins
- 50 g imitation crab(s) or ham
- 2 medium egg(s) + 2 pinches of salt for kinshi tamago
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp Japanese mustard "Karashi" or English "Colman's mustard" also works
- ½ tbsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp Chinese-style chicken bouillon powder
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
Preparing the ingredients
- Cut 50 g Japanese or Persian cucumber(s) and 50 g carrot(s) into thin diagonal slices about 2-3mm thick.
- Julienne the cucumber, carrot and 5 g fresh ginger so that they're thin match sticks.
- Transfer them to a bowl and add 1/4 tsp salt. Massage until the salt is evenly distributed and then cover the bowl and rest it in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Thinly slice 1 fresh wood ear mushroom(s) and shred 50 g imitation crab(s), set aside for later.
- In a small bowl, add 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp Japanese mustard, 1/2 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tsp sesame seeds and C1/2 tsp Chinese-style chicken bouillon powder. Mix until the sugar and stock powder have dissolved and set aside for later.
- Heat a small non-stick frying pan on a medium-low setting and add a small drizzle of oil. Use a paper towel to spread the oil around the pan and remove the excess.
- Crack 2 medium egg(s) into a bowl with one pinch of salt per egg and whisk until the yolks and whites are combined.
- Place a sieve over a separate bowl and pour in the whisked egg. Work the egg through the sieve using a silicone spatula or spoon.
- Pour in one egg's worth of mixture into the pan and swirl it around, coating the bottom of the pan with a thin even layer. (Don't pour in everything at once, otherwise the egg crepe will be too thick.)
- Cook until the egg is 80% done (slightly soft on the surface). No need to flip.
- Peel the egg out of the pan and transfer it to a chopping board. Roll it up and cut into 2mm slices.
- Grease the pan again and repeat until all of your egg mixture is used up.
- Cook or soak 50 g thin glass noodles according to the instructions on the packaging.
- Pour the softened noodles into a sieve to drain the water and then wash with cold running water to cool. Place the sieve over a mixing bowl and add a few ice cubes to help chill the noodles further.
- Take the bowl of carrot, cucumber and ginger from earlier and drain any liquid that has formed at the bottom.
- Transfer the contents to a new, larger mixing bowl and add the kinshi tamago, noodles, wood ear mushrooms and imitation crab. Mix well and then add the sauce.
- Mix thoroughly until all the ingredients are evenly coated in the sauce.
- Dish up and sprinkle with a few more sesame seeds.