Somen (or sōmen) is a very thin noodles served cold which makes it a perfect summer dish. Noodles are served in chilled water and the dipping sauce is also chilled. It is a very simple dish but wonderful to pop in between heavy meals to give your stomach a little bit of a rest.
If you use dashi stock made from konbu (kelp), the dish will become a vegetarian dish.
Add all the Dipping Sauce ingredients to a small saucepan and bring it to a boil.
Remove from the heat and cool it down quickly by leaving the pan in the cold water for a while, then place it in the fridge to chill.
Boil water in a large saucepan. Remove the tape around each bunch of sōmen noodles and place the noodles in the boiling water by spreading the strands.
Boil for about 2 minutes (note 3). Drain using a sieve and rinse well.
Place noodles in a serving bowl, add chilled water (or water + ice cubes), just enough to cover the noodles.
Using chopsticks or tongs with soft edges, take a small number of noodles at a time and gently lay them in the same direction so that the noodles line up nicely (optional).
Decorate the noodle bowl with leaves or cucumber slices, if using. Serve with dipping sauce and condiments.
1. You can buy sōmen at supermarkets as well as Japanese/Asian grocery stores.
Instead of sōmen, you can use hiyamugi if you like. Boiling time will be slightly longer if you use hiyamugi.
2. If you are a vegetarian, please use konbu-dashi - refer to Varieties of Dashi Stock.
3. If the boiling water starts bubbling and is likely to overflow, adjust the heat to simmer. Using a deep saucepan also helps prevent the boiling water from overflowing.
4. Serving in cold water is one option to present the coolness of the dish. You can simply serve the noodles on a plate without water but it is probably a good idea to scatter several ice cubes. Otherwise, the noodles might stick each other after a while and you may find it difficult to take just a mouthful size of noodles.