Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Saimin, aka Hawaiian Noodle Soup #recipe by @Leslie Karst

Robin and I recently returned to Hawai‘i from Santa Cruz, where we'll be until March (when we return to the Mainland so I can attend Left Coast Crime--yippee!) The cuisine in Hawai‘i is heavily influenced by Japan, especially so here in Hilo, where Japanese-Americans make up a large percentage of the population. And one of my favorite local dishes is saimin (pronounced "sigh-meen").

Saimin is basically a Japanese-inflected noodle soup, in essence a form of ramen. But the name is peculiar to Hawai‘i, where the dish is hugely popular.  (You can read all about saimin here.)

The soup I prepare in this recipe is made with smoked salmon, but you could substitute any cooked meat or protein, such as pork, chicken, or even fried tofu.

Smoked Salmon Saimin


(makes one large Hawaiian-size serving)

1/2 cup shredded Chinese/Napa cabbage

1" piece ginger

1 green onion

1 chunk (about 2" x 3") smoked salmon

1 packet dashi (see explanation below, in text)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sherry

1 tablespoon mirin (or substitute rice vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar)

1 packet saimin noodles (or substitute udon or ramen noodles)

1 poached egg

the ingredients pictured are for several people


Slice the cabbage, coarsely chop the green onions, and cut the ginger into slivers:

Then break the salmon into bite-size pieces, and set aside.

The base for my saimin broth was dashi, which can be found in the Asian food section of most grocery stores. (It comes in a box of several single-serve packets.) The soup base is made from dried bonito (as well as MSG):

Pour 3 cups of water into a saucepan, and stir in the dashi, as well as the soy sauce, sherry, mirin, and slivered ginger. 

Bring this all to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Then add the noodles to the water, and cook as directed. Mine were the frozen variety, common here in the islands, which I thawed before cooking, and which only took a minute or two to cook:

Ohana means family in Hawaiian.
This bag had 9 packets of noodles.

While the noodles are cooking, poach the egg. (For those who have an egg-poaching phobia, here’s a video to show you how. Unlike this guy, however, I keep the water at a simmer as the eggs cook, and they only take a couple minutes to poach. You can poach up to two at a time.)

Once cooked, use tongs to pull your noodles from the broth, and place them in a large bowl:

Then add the cabbage,

and the shredded smoked salmon,

and then pour the broth (along with the slivered ginger) over it all:

Top with the poached egg, garnish with the green onions, and serve (see photo at top), along with soy sauce and hot sauce on the table for those who want them. Beer is optional but makes for a great pairing!

Here’s my bowl, after I broke the egg yolk and let it drizzle into the soup. Onolicious!

🌱  🍜  🌿


The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. Putting this early education to good use, she now writes the Lefty Award-nominated Sally Solari Mysteries, a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. 
An ex-lawyer like her sleuth, Leslie also has degrees in English literature and the culinary arts. She and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawai‘i.

Leslie’s website
Leslie also blogs with Chicks on the Case
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Praise for Leslie's most recent Sally Solari mystery, the Lefty Award-nominated MURDER FROM SCRATCH:

“Karst seasons her writing with an accurate insider’s view of restaurant operation, as well as a tenderness in the way she treats family, death and Sally’s reactions to Evelyn’s blindness.”

Ellery Queen Magazine (featured pick)


Such a deal! The Lefty Award-nominated Murder from Scratch is a Kindle Deal of the Month, for only $1.99 through the entire month of November! 

All four Sally Solari Mysteries are available through AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Bookshop.


Dying for a TasteA Measure of Murder, and Murder from Scratch are also available as AUDIOBOOKS from Audible!


  1. Yummy! I ate a LOT of noodle soups when I lived in Japan. Am copying out this recipe.

  2. The Hilo area is so wonderful. Lucky you!
    This sounds very tasty. Is the dashi mix high in sodium? (as well as having the msg)?

    1. It does have sodium in it, but I don't think of it as being super salty, Libby.

  3. I've only recently discovered how much I enjoy Asian noodle soups thanks to an Asian fusion restaurant that opened in our little town. My favorites so far are Vietnamese Pho & a miso soup with tofu so I'm looking forward to making this Hawaiian soup. It sounds really good with the salmon but I'm going to also use fried tofu. The biggest surprise to me is how much I like tofu. I'm a Texan & was raised on chicken fried everything so this venture into Asian cuisine has really been eye-opening to me.

    1. Linda: I'd cut the tofu into strips, then let it drain on paper towels to dry, then toss it in a dry rub of spices such as garlic powder, ginger, five-spice or tandoori seasoning, salt, pepper, and maybe even a little sugar. Whatever sounds fun! Then brown the tofu in hot oil and drain on paper towels till ready to add to the soup. (Hmmm...that sounds pretty good; maybe I'll make it soon!)

    2. Tossing the tofu in cornstarch encourages the crisping.