Recipe by Halcyon Eve
Somen are very fine Japanese wheat noodles, finer than vermicelli. Look for them in the Asian section of your grocery or at an Asian market. This makes a refreshing lunch or light supper on a hot summer day. You can add cooked, deveined, peeled shrimp if you wish (cut larger shrimp in half). Other suggestion include dried shiitake simmered in equal parts soy sauce and mirin (Japanese sweet rice cooking wine), and watercress or trefoil (a Japanese green somewhat similar to watercress). The dipping sauce is best if made the day before, but it is still good if made the same day. This recipe comes from Shizuo Tsuji's 'Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art', which I highly recommend to anyone interested in traditional Japanese cooking.
- 1 cup dashi (Japanese bonito stock, available as instant granules or make your own)
- 1⁄2 cup mirin
- 1⁄4 cup soy sauce (I prefer Kikkoman)
- 1 tablespoon prepared wasabi (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
- 1⁄4 lb somen noodles
- 1⁄4 cup cilantro leaf (more or less to taste)
Directions See How It's Made
- Make dipping sauce by combining the dashi (or dashi granules and 1 cup water), mirin, and soy sauce in a medium saucepan. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Force-cool the sauce by pouring into a medium-size metal mixing bowl, placing into a large bowl of ice cubes and water, and twirling, taking care not to spill, until cooled. (Note: this is an important step; it won't taste right if you just let it cool slowly!)When cooled, refrigerate until ready to use.
- Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse well under cold water, drain again, and place in a bowl of cold water.
- To serve, place a mound of noodles into individual glass bowls, tuck in a few ice cubes and pour in a small amount of water (not enough to cover; just to dampen). Sprinkle with cilantro leaves to taste.
- On little individual plates, place a small mound of sliced green onion and a dab of wasabi. Pour some dipping sauce into small individual bowls.
- Each person can season his or her sauce to taste with the onions and wasabi, then pick up a bunch of noodles (chopsticks really work the best, but you can use a fork, too), allow water to drip back into bowl, dip into sauce, and eat.
- For a somewhat heartier meal, add some of the suggested additions (in the description above) along with the cilantro leaves when serving. I like to serve this with a simple salad of tomato wedges, sliced cucumber, and either lettuce or Napa cabbage with a Japanese-style dressing.