Why It Works
- Serving the somen noodles over ice and dipping them in a chilled, dashi-based dipping sauce makes this hot-weather dish cooling and refreshing.
- The dipping sauce can be made well ahead of time and the quick-cooking somen can be kept in an ice bath for up to an hour before serving, making this a very flexible and convenient lunch or dinner option.
Here in the last throes of summer, lunch is sometimes no more than a mound of somen noodles served atop a bed of ice. Somen noodles are thin wheat noodles, as thin as vermicelli, more delicate than buckwheat. Twirled around chopsticks and dipped in a sauce made with soy sauce and dashi, the noodles slide down the throat. They are icy, firm, and rich.
You can find somen noodles at any Chinese, Korean, or Japanese grocery store (not to mention certain overpriced upscale western markets). Somen noodles cook in one to two minutes and can be kept chilled for up to an hour in a bowl of ice water, making preparation hassle-free.
Serve the noodles with whatever sides you have around: sautéed mushrooms, seaweed, or a dollop of natto or tofu for protein. You can serve the sides directly on the noodles and ice, or as accompaniments in separate plates.
The dipping sauce is made by simmering dashi (fish stock) soy sauce, and sugar with handfuls of bonito flakes (dried fish flakes). Thinly sliced scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and julienned nori make for quick garnishes, though if the noodles are cooked to al dente perfection and the dipping sauce is flavorful, little more is necessary for the perfect slurping experience.
August 12, 2011
8 ounces dried somen (see note)
For the dipping sauce:
7 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cups dashi
1/2 cup bonito flakes
To make the dipping sauce, heat the soy sauce and sugar in a pot over low heat until the mixture is hot and the sugar is dissolved. Add the dashi and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the bonito flakes and turn off the heat. Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Let the sauce cool, then refrigerate it. The sauce can be kept in a container for 4 days in the refrigerator.
Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the somen noodles and cook until the noodles are still firm in the center, about one minute. Pour the noodles into a colander and rinse under cold running water, then place the noodles into a bowl of ice water for up to an hour.
To serve, mound the noodles over a bowl of ice and dip in the dipping sauce before eating. Serve with your choice of sides and garnishes.
Somen noodles can be found at any Chinese, Korean, or Japanese grocery store.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 2g||2%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||2%|
|Total Carbohydrate 20g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||1%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|