Summers in Japan can be brutally hot. Favorite go-to dishes on these hot summer days are Japanese cold noodles dishes, such as somen. As you slurp cold somen noodles dipped in tsuyu, you feel your body starting to cool in the summer heat.
Somen are white Japanese noodles made of wheat flour, and they are very thin—about 1 millimeter in diameter. The dough is stretched, with the help of vegetable oil, to make very thin strips, and then air-dried (which is why you need to rinse somen noodles after boiling).
Somen are usually served cold, with a dipping sauce called tsuyu. The dipping sauce is the same Japanese dashi-based broth used in hot soup, but more concentrated in flavor. The sauce is flavored with scallions and ginger. You can also add shiso leaf or myoga if you can find them at Japanese grocery stores.
Gather the ingredients.
First start by making the dipping sauce: Put mirin in a sauce pan and heat.
Add soy sauce and dashi soup stock to the pan and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and cool the sauce.
Once you have the dipping sauce completed, boil water in a large pan.
Add dried somen noodles in the boiling water, gently stirring noodles with chopsticks, and cook for a few minutes—approximately 2 to 3 minutes—until done. (If it's necessary, add a little bit of cold water in the pan to prevent overflowing.)
Drain the somen in a colander and cool them under running water or in an ice bath.
Wash the noodles with hands under running water. (If the noodles were tied, find the knotted parts of somen noodles and pick them up. Cut off the edge and discard.)
Serve drained cold somen in a large serving bowl, dipping sauce in individual cups, and place some toppings, such as grated ginger, scallions, strips of shiso leaves, and myoga on the side.
- Traditional Japanese restaurants tie up the noodles to enhance the appearance of the somen. This is how you do it: simply tie the edge of somen noodles with cooking twine. This way, noodles will stay in one direction while cooking.
For Dipping Sauces:
- 2 cups unseasoned dashi (Japanese soup stock)
- 5 tablespoons usukuchi shoyu (Japanese light soy sauce)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)