Project Saimin

Sister in Law 4 (SIL4) and her husband brought back a gift for us from their trip to Kauai: saimin noodles from Hamura Saimin. How thoughtful of them to bring my favorite gift: FOOD! In business for over 50 years, Hamura Saimin Stand is possibly Kauai’s most famous eatery. When I went there on  a trip in 2007, the place was packed with both tourists and locals alike, and we stood in a loooong line before we sat down to enjoy their famous bowl of saimin, BBQ chicken sticks, and lilikoi chiffon pie.

080509 saimin hamura

When I opened up the box of freshly made noodles, I was puzzled to find nothing else included in the box. No directions, no soup base.

080509 saimin noodles

Which led me to my assignment for the day: how the heck do you make saimin soup? I always thought saimin soup was something that came with the noodles in little silver packages stamped “S&S”.

A quick search of saimin soup recipes online did not help at all. One recipe called for “6 cups chicken broth” – chicken broth? I think not. One recipe called for “4 cups dashi” – uh, I thought the whole point of a recipe is to tell you how to make the dashi in the first place? One should also never trust a recipe that says to use somen or soba noodles for “saimin”. Clearly these recipes are being created somewhere far away from Hawaii.

According to the S&S packet label at the supermarket, the main seasoning is MSG. No big surprise here, but I wanted to make a soup that was a little more special than the S&S packets (not to mention less MSG-laden). I had to do right by the Hamura noodles that traveled across the ocean to be on our table!

Finally, I just decided to make up my own soup, basing my recipe on the hints of bonito and shrimp flavors of some good saimin I’ve had over the years. I used a combination of:

  • Shrimp stock (I didn’t have dried shrimp so I poached shrimp in the water and also simmered the shrimp shells)
  • Bonito soup base (I use a powdered bonito soup base that’s all natural and contains no MSG that my mom sends over from Japan, but dashinomoto/hondashi will do just fine)
  • Chicken broth
  • Shoyu, salt, pepper, and a little sugar to taste

Then I prepared all the garnishes: won bok, bean sprouts, kamaboko, shrimp, egg, and green onions.

Since there were no cooking directions on the noodles, I just boiled them, tasting periodically for doneness. I think it was about 2.5 minutes cooking time.

Then I assembled everything together and voila! It tasted pretty good! The noodles had a nice firm texture and a delicious flavor. I never realized that noodles can add flavor to the soup. I thought it was the other way around, but the Hamura noodles really rounded out the soup and made it milder.

080509 saimin complete

080509 saimin noodles cooked

When you’re on Kauai, be sure to check out Hamura Saimin Stand:

Hamura Saimin
2956 Kress Street
Lihue, Kauai 96766


5 Responses to “Project Saimin”

  1. 1 Kristen August 8, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Wow, Ai! Looks delicious! When I brought noodles back for my mom from our Kauai trip, she made fried noodles out of them and they turned out great, too. I’ll let her post her recipe 🙂

  2. 2 Er August 8, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Aww…the Hamura’s saimin brings me back to our Kaua’i Trip back in 2007. Has it been THAT long?! That was a great trip, and I was so glad we got to go to Hamura’s right before we left to come back home! Oh, and that Lilikoi Chiffon pie…to die for! 🙂

  3. 3 honolulueats August 9, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Er: I know, doesn’t it bring back memories? Waiting in line was part of the fun too.

    Kristen: Ooh fried saimin. I didn’t think of that one! I’d love to see her recipe for that.

  4. 4 sil4 August 11, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    it looks soooooo good! truthfully, it looks better than what we ate there and probably tasted better because it was msg-free! so glad you guys enjoyed the noodles.

  5. 5 Keith August 14, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Good stuff. While on a 4 day weekend to Kauai many years ago, my ex had us eating there twice a day. Then she brought a ton back. Sad to say, I pretty much had my fill…. for life.

    (Btw, I know you’re now more interested in hearing about my “ex”…)

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