Somen are thin Japanese noodles, traditionally served cold with a dipping sauce. Cold Somen noodles makes for a quick and easy meal during hot summer days, when all you want to do is sit in front of a fan rather than stand in front of a stove.
Before you delve into this recipe, I have a confession to make. The way this recipe is written is how we (my husband and I) eat Somen at home, and in no way do I claim this to be an authentic Japanese recipe.
There is still some cooking required for this easy noodle dish, but I will try to limit your standing-in-front-of-a-stove-time to a minimum of boiling eggs and preparing the dry noodles.
Special Ingredients (and where to get them!)
This Japanese-inspired recipe does require a few unusual ingredients. But trust me - they are really worth the effort.
Somen noodle soup base – This is the dipping sauce for your noodles. You can buy a straight sauce, like this one in the picture, which you can use directly for dipping or to dress your noodles. There is also a more concentrated version you can buy, which will require dilution when used. If any of the sauce is too salty for your taste, dilute with water. Note that this is not meant to be a broth for your noodle, so don’t dump the entire bottle to fill your noodle bowl.
Dry Somen noodles – just like pasta, you can buy dry Somen noodles. (I use these noodles.) They are very thin, delicate, white, round noodles. One package usually comes with multiple bundles, with cooking instructions on the back side. Some brands do have English instructions.
Kamaboko – this is Japanese fish cake. It comes in many different forms and shapes. But this one pictured is the one I usually buy for this recipe and to add to other recipes such as ramen noodles, hot pot, fried Asian noodles, etc.
I tend to order these items online (see the links above). But you should also be able to find all three of these ingredients in a Chinese grocery store such as 99 Ranch, or a Korean supermarket such as H-mart, and any Japanese markets such as Marukai, Mitsuwa, Nijia.
Toppings and Serving Ideas
Roasted seaweed – I like to buy these roasted seaweed snack packs to serve alongside or over top of the somen noodles. They are usually roasted in sesame oil or grapeseed oil, and salted. These are not the large sheets for making sushi rolls.
Cucumbers – Sliced cucumbers are a clever way to add some fresh green veggies to your meal. It is also a refreshing side dish during summer.
Sautéed vegetables – To add even more healthy veggies to your meal, you could sautée Bok Choy or your choice of greens with a bit of garlic. Set aside to cool, and serve cold with the noodles. Skip this if you want to absolutely minimize cooking time.
Fried egg – Instead of hard boiled eggs, you could scramble and fry into a sheet, then cut into thin slices.
Tofu – I like to use medium firm tofu because it is easy to slice. Cut into thin slices, top with green onion and soy sauce. Serve cold.
Any other vegetable or meat left over in your fridge can be added atop your noodles!
This meal is not meant to be fancy. At all. But I hope it give you a starting point for delving into the delicious world of somen noodles.
And if you love these noodles, be sure to give these other tasty Asian-inspired recipes a try:
Somen Noodles - Quick and Easy Meal Idea for Summer
- 1 bottle of Somen noodle soup base - refrigerate
- 4 bundles of dry Somen noodles
- 1 pack of red Kamaboko fish cake
- 4 eggs
- 2 stalks of green onion
- Other toppings as desired
- Put eggs in a medium sauce pan and add water to cover. Bring water to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium heat and let boil for 9-10 minutes. Then immediately remove eggs and dump into an ice bath to cool.
- Refer to instructions on the package to prepare noodles if possible. Otherwise, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a tall pasta pot, add noodles and cook for 2 – 3 minutes until noodles are done, stirring with chopsticks. Immediately drain noodles and rinse under cold water in a colander. Let noodles sit in an ice bath.
- Open the Kamaboko package, peel it off the wooden base with a knife and cut into thin slices.
- Peel eggs and cut into thin slices with an egg slicer or a knife.
- Wash and slice the green onion thinly.
- Add some noodles to a bowl, top with Kamaboko, egg and green onion, dress with soup base and enjoy cold.