The Tasty Island’s Project Dry Mein, exhibit C (mixed)
Ever since recently hearing about and seeing first-hand photo accounts of Sam Sato’s famous dry noodles, also referred to as “Dry Mein”, something about it had me bent on recreating the dish at home. Perhaps it’s the purely simplistic concept the dish seems to have. “Seems” being the operative word, that increases my curiosity even further, along with the “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?!” thought slapping me across the face. This, compounded by the many sentiments of high regard and enthusiasm over the dish made in comments by readers here over the surrogate review I did a month ago on Sam Sato’s, makes it that much more intriguing.
Since I’m on Oahu, not Maui, and can’t just conveniently drive on over to Wailuku to get some myself, the next best thing I can do is attempt to deconstruct the dish in order to recreate it.
And all I’ve got to work with are a few photos, as well as a few fellow diners’ first-hand accounts of how the dish is presented. Along with the flavor profile of the broth side dish, and most importantly, the flavor and texture of the noodles.
Let’s take a look once again at the real McCoy, a serving of Dry Noodles from Sam Sato’s…
Now look at my attempt at recreating the dish…
Notice I named this one “exhibit C”, as this is my third attempt, and the best one yet.
Color-wise, my broth is obviously darker and less neutral-looking, if you will. An attestment to perhaps a little too much dashi in the chicken stock? Dunno’. Still ono though! My Sun Noodle Saimin-based noodles also aren’t as fat and could use a little more oil to coat, but still, it worked. Completely. Absolutely! According to those recently trying Sam Sato’s, spot on.
Which reminds just how complex this “seemingly” simple dish can be. Not quite as easy as just cooking the noodles in boiling water and serving it on the side with a dashi-based saimin broth. I tried that initially-assumed method, and It turned out rather bland and just, eh, OK. Surely not as good the one everyone raves about over at Sam Sato’s.
I was confident I already had the right noodles for the dish, which is the superior Hawaii’s Original Saimin Old Style from Sun Noodle…
Since I wasn’t satisfied with the first attempt, I went on to plan B and searched online for recipes, coming across really what was the only one I could find that sounded close, posted over at AlohaWorld.com.
Reader Jocelyn left a comment mentioning she thought the noodles are flavored with oyster sauce, dashi and oil.I also noticed one reviewer of Sam Sato’s who didn’t speak so highly of the dish mentioned the broth tasted like chicken broth. Which actually sounded like something worth trying!
So using ALL those ingredients, as well as the basic method of preparation from Aloha World’s recipe, I set off to refine it.
One mistake I made in following AlohaWorld’s recipe was to use ALL the sauce ingredients as instructed when tossing the cooked noodles in the bowl, which turned out too salty and over-flavored. So much for exhibit B.
Finally I came up with a winner on my third attempt with exhibit C. Here’s the recipe!…
Dry Mein Project Exhibit C recipe
1 serving Sun Noodle brand Hawaii’s Original Saimin Old Style (including dashi broth packet)
1 14 oz. can chicken broth
2 cups water
2 tablespoons shoyu
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon dashi or saimin broth powder diluted with 2 tablespoons hot chicken broth
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon powdered dashi saimin broth
Chopped green onions
Charsiu, cut into strips
Kamaboko, cut into strips
Green Onions, chopped
Bring entire can of chicken stock to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Pour about a half-cup of the hot chicken broth in a small serving bowl on the side. To this, add 1 tablespoons of the powdered dashi saimin broth (in the packet) and stir to fully dilute and combine. Garnish with green onion (this also adds flavor!).
To the chicken broth pot, add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil once again. Once its boiling, add the fresh saimin noodles and cook until al dente, about 3-4 minutes. Drain noodles thoroughly (you can save the hot chicken stock & water to cook another serving by pouring it out into another pot).
While the noodles are cooking, in a small cup or bowl, combine the shoyu, oyster sauce, diluted dashi saimin broth and oil together using a spoon, whisking briskly to infuse the oil with the other ingredients. This is the key component in the dish, so the better you mix it and taste it to your liking, the better!
Immediately after draining, place hot, cooked noodles into a large mixing bowl. Now drizzle the soy, oyster, dashi and oil sauce mixture slowly (emphasize SLOWLY!) onto the noodles and toss to evenly c0at. Add just enough to taste, better underdoing it than overdoing it. Go by the feel of the force, Jedi master. lol But seriously, do that.
Then add sauce-coated cooked saimin noodles to serving bowl and top with all your garnishes. Serve immediately while hot along with the side bowl of broth. Enjoy.
In summarizing this Dry Mein’s deconstructed and reconstructed project, the noodles are absolutely the star of the dish, to which the Sun Brand “Nama” style saimin is the preferred choice, to the best I’d consider based on what I’m told about it. It’s not quite as thick or same in profile as Sam Sato’s, but close enough to pull it off. Especially the flavor and texture of it.
Another key is getting the “sauce” that you toss the noodles with, right. You can most certainly play around a bit with the recipe to make it your own. Perhaps add ginger. Less shoyu. More Oyster Sauce. In fact, I even added a dash of Chinese style abalone sauce to mines, and it was really ono!
But those core ingredients listed in this recipe should get you on your way to a great Dry Mein. I thought so.
It would be great to hear from all you Sam Sato Maui regulars on your take on the Dry Noodles, and how you would decontruct the dish, and whether this recipe sounds on the money.
Until I get to Sam Sato’s myself, I think it’s darned close.