I can feel summer approaching with the temperature rising day by day. Thanks to Japanese noodles, as they have a variety of types that could be cooked as a cold dish. They are absolutely refreshing for the summer time lunch & dinner menu!
Today, out of our many favorite noodles in Japan, I would like to introduce to you “somen” noodles. They are white, very thin noodles like a thread, kind of like angel hair pasta. The thinness of the noodles make it easier to mix well with any kind of soup, so it goes well with both soups: hot bubbling soup, or with cold dipping sauce.
Our favorite brand for “somen” is this. “Ibo no Ito”, which you can find in any supermarket about $4 with 300g. It also says it is a 上級品(Jo-kyu hin), which means premium, which we highly agree in terms of quality. We like this brand because it has a more elastic texture to it, than just being soft. You can experience this taste just by adding only 50 yen or so! Plus, it’s so easy to cook: Just put the noodles in boiling water for 1.5 minutes and drain/wash it with ice cold water. Be careful not to over-boil these noodles!
Today, we would like to show you 2 ways of eating: The standard “Hiyashi-somen” (Cold Somen), and one with spicy hot dipping sauce. Both require the “Mentsuyu Sauce” which also could be bought in any local supermarkets. There are basically 2 types to Mentsuyu: Katsuo (Bonito tuna) type, and Konbu (kelp) type. The fragrance is different, but we prefer the Konbu type, so we use the Yamasa brand below. Also to add spiciness to the hot sauce, use “Ra-yu” or chilli-oil. We always buy the “Taberu-Ra-yu” which literally means, “chilli-oil for eating”. We love this chilli-oil because it’s much more than oil and it contains fried onions & garlic that make meals more than perfect with the tempting fragrance and chunky texture. We highly recommend the Momoya brand with garlic, but since they run out of the shelves very quickly due to their popularity, we only had the S&B brand without garlic type…
If you like, try adding different seasonings such as spring onions, steamed egg-plants, wasabi, ginger… Don’t forget to be creative when cooking somen! After reading this article, I hope we were able to leave you with the impression of how low-cost & easy this somen can be prepared. These noodles & seasonings have long expiration dates, and could be brought back abroad, so highly recommended for souvenir gifts too! Try different seasonings & vegetables that you have at your home country to eat with this all-purpose noodle, “somen”.
Cold Somen Noodles in 2 Dipping Sauces
- 200 g Somen Noodles
- 1 Eggplant
- 0.5 Spring Onions
- 1 cup Mentsuyu Sauce
- 2 cups Water
Spicy Hot Sauce
- 1.5 cup Soy Milk
- 3 tbsp Mentsuyu Sauce
- 1 tbsp Ra-yu (Chilli Oil) "Taberu-Ra-yu" is recommended
- 1/4 pack Shimeji mushrooms
- Boil water and cook somen noodles for 1.5 minutes. Drain hot water and rinse noodles with ice cold water. Put ice to keep noodles cold.
- Cut eggplants into long pieces. Place eggplants & shimeji mushrooms in the microwave and steam for 2 minutes (600W). Cut the spring onions into small pieces.
- Prepare the cold sauce & hot sauce by mixing the ingredients. Heat the hot sauce in a microwave. Serve noodles & eggplants in separate plates, and enjoy them with the dipping sauces! Add spring onions to eat with the noodles at your choice of timing.