Written by Nupur Jena
Chilled Somen Noodles - A Refreshing Summer Dish In Japan
Chilled Somen is a refreshing summer dish enjoyed by everyone in Japan. Would you like to try making cold somen at home? Let us introduce to you the ingredients and recipe to make a delicious somen dish for yourself.
Chilled Somen Noodles: a Classic Japanese Summer Dish
Summers in Japan are hot and humid. Traveling or movement during such weather could make one yearn for some relaxing and cold dishes. Chilled somen is a traditional Japanese meal that may be an unusual noodle dish for some, as it is served cold.
In Japan, there are many varieties of chilled noodle dishes and somen, which are dried thin noodles, is just one of them. Japanese summers are so hot and humid that one often loses their appetite by the end of the day, but cold somen is very nice and easy to eat. Adults like it, but kids like it even more because it is tasty and fun to eat. Noodles in ice water are the children’s summer favorite.
Different Ways to Satisfy the Taste Buds
The main characteristic of somen noodles is that they are boiled, thin white noodles made from wheat. These noodles are then dipped in the sauce (tsuyu) along with grated ginger and chopped green onions. Somen by itself has a very mild flavor, so it needs a strongly flavored dipping sauce. If the dish is too light, one can eat it with thinly sliced vegetables and pan fried rolled egg omelet too. That makes it more of a complete meal. You can find somen noodle sets along with noodle sauce at many supermarkets too.
Traditionally, somen noodles come to the table topped with ice cubes to keep the strands cold. The dish is eaten by dunking the noodles in the cold broth. The subtle flavor can be punched up with grated wasabi, shredded nori, or thinly sliced shiso leaves. In addition, to make the sauce a little more flavor one can add extra ginger or wasabi.
Somen is not something you normally eat at restaurants. It truly tastes best when cooked at home. During the summertime, many people host nagashi somen parties, a fun and social way of eating somen noodles. Bundles of cooked noodles are dropped into cold flowing water and sent down a pipe made of split bamboo. Everyone then tries to catch the somen as it flows by, which requires some skill with chopsticks.
The noodles can be enjoyed with toppings like hard-boiled egg, cucumber, and sesame seeds. It is a unique summertime dining activity that can be enjoyed with many friends. Chilled summer noodles are a delicious way to keep cool and nourished during the hot summer months. And, as the dishes are very flexible in terms of the types of noodles used and toppings added, they can be tailored to all tastes!
Ingredients Required to Make Cold Somen
Heat all dipping sauce ingredients like dashi, mirin, soy sauce and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Cool the sauce, then chill for about one hour. This sauce is called tsuyu. To serve, place the noodles in a bowl of ice and dip them in the dipping sauce before eating.
Noodles are an important staple of Japanese cuisine, eaten by people of all ages in every part of the country. Somen are white wheat flour noodles cut into thin strips, about 1 mm in diameter. The dough is stretched with the help of vegetable oil to make very thin strips. These thin noodles are easily flavored by the sauce and taste amazing.
Cold somen tastes best when cooked at home; it is simple and easy to make after a tiring day at work! Let's see how to make cold somen.
2 bunches dried somen noodle
1 green onion, thinly sliced
Ginger root, grated
2 cups unseasoned dashi (Japanese soup stock)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
1 ½ tablespoon shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
½ cup water
1. Boil water and add somen to the boiling water.
2. Cook for a minute and strain the noodles thoroughly by washing them in running water.
3. Put ice water in a serving bowl and add somen. Keep it aside.
4. Mix tsuyu and water, and serve the sauce along with onion and ginger.
How to Serve Somen for 6 People
Divide noodles among 6 bowls filled with ice cold water. Divide dipping sauce among 6 small bowls and serve with accompaniments for flavoring it, and then dip each mouthful of noodles in sauce and savor the taste.
Somen is a perfect summer noodle dish because it’s typically served over ice or in a cold ice bath. This unique type of dish may sound a bit different for visitors, but it is a must try especially if visiting during summer. If you want to try some local Japanese cold somen, the best place to visit are the stalls which serve them at the summer festivals. Enjoy having this simple yet popular cold dish this summer!
Main image by Pixta