Japanese Somen Salad With Sweet and Sour Dressing

Japanese somen salad

Judy Ung

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Japanese somen salad is a simple salad of vegetables and protein served over a bed of very thin wheat somen noodles. Japanese somen noodles may be likened to Italian angel hair pasta.

Somen salad is likely a Japanese fusion dish with blended Japanese and Hawaiian origins, yet these days, noodle salads such as somen salad, soba (buckwheat salad), and udon (thick wheat noodle) salads are not uncommon in Japan. We might consider this type of dish as modern Japanese cuisine.


For the Salad

  • 9 ounces (90 grams) somen noodles, dried, or 1 ream of noodles

  • 2 cups iceberg lettuce

  • 1 cup cucumber slices, julienned

  • 1/2 cup red kamaboko fish cake, julienned

  • 1 cup ready-to-eat BBQ charsiu pork, or shredded chicken breast, ham, or shrimp

  • 1/3 cup thin Japanese egg omelet, kinshi tamago, julienned

  • Green onions, optional

  • 1/2 tablespoon white sesame seeds, roasted

For the Dressing:

  • 1 teaspoon beef base, such as Memmi Noodle Soup Base, or sea salt, to taste

  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Steps to Make It

  1. Cook somen noodles. In a medium pot, boil water over medium-high heat and add dried somen noodles. When the water begins to bubble and foam, quickly add 3/4 cup of cool water. Continue to cook somen noodles and bring to a boil once more. Add another 3/4 cup of cool water. Turn off heat. Drain somen noodles and rinse with cold water. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator to chill.

  2. Prepare the dressing for the somen salad. In a small bowl, combine sugar and rice vinegar. Mix well. Heat the rice vinegar and sugar mixture in the microwave oven for 10 to 15 seconds until the sugar dissolves. Next, add Memmi Noodle Soup Base and canola oil. Allow the dressing to cool.

  3. Make kinshi tamago or thinly sliced Japanese egg omelet.

  4. Slice iceberg lettuce into long thin pieces and cucumbers into julienned pieces. If using green onions as a garnish, thinly slice these on the diagonal for a beautiful presentation.

  5. Slice the fish cake by first making horizontal slices to create fan-shaped pieces. Next, make julienne pieces by cutting each kamaboko vertically, so that each piece has a touch of colorful pink.

  6. Chop store-bought pre-cooked BBQ charsiu pork into bite-sized pieces. Or substitute with shredded chicken, ham slices, or cooked shrimp.

  7. Assemble somen salad in a shallow platter. On the bottom of the platter, spread somen noodles. Next, layer with lettuce and cucumber. Top with BBQ charsiu pork, and then garnish with kinshi tamago (thin Japanese egg omelet), green onions, and roasted sesame seeds. Before serving, pour dressing over and serve immediately.


  • Substitute BBQ charsiu with other proteins such as shredded chicken, ham, or shrimp.
  • Instead of making a sweet and sour salad dressing, try purchasing a bottle of Chinese chicken salad dressing or try other bottled soy sauce-based Japanese-style salad dressings as a shortcut.
  • At the Japanese grocery store, red kamaboko (fish cake) is pink and white in color.