Japan’s summers are hot and humid, refreshing light, cooling food is the order of the day. One of Japan’s traditional summer foods is “Somen,” a delicate and slender noodle made from wheat and flour. The noodles are thinner than angel-hair pasta, and take minutes to prepare.
Somen, coupled with sweet soy-ginger sauce is a complete meal in itself. The general recipe calls for cooking noodles over a high heat for less than 5 minutes, drain and cool. The taste of the dipping sauce is soy sauce and fish bouillon with sugar or “Mirin” ( rice wine similar to sake, but with a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content) to sweeten. Drench noodles with the sauce and serve cold. However, there are numerous ginger based dipping sauce recipes that can be used to cover the delicate noodle. Also, one can add many toppings to the dipping sauce such as, onions, ginger, sesame seeds, tomato, cucumbers, scallions and shrimp.
One enjoyable summer party and restaurant “Somen” treat is called “Nagashi Somen” or “Somen Nagashi” (flowing noodles). “Somen” is placed in water flowing along a long bamboo or plastic gutter. You pluck the noodles from flowing water with chopsticks, and then dip the noodles in a cool broth, before eating. Catching the noodles requires a fair amount of dexterity, but the noodles that are not caught by the time they get to the end usually are not eaten, so diners and party goers are pressured to catch as many noodles as they can.
Try this cold, refreshing but tasteful summer faire.
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