Japanese Gastronomy: Somen-The Basics

SOMEN-1

The hot weather will come quickly to Japan and it is already time to think about refreshing recipes!
Sōmen (素麺) are very thin, white Japanese noodles made of wheat flour. The noodles are usually served cold and are less than 1.3 mm in diameter. The distinction between sōmen and the next thicker wheat noodles hiyamugi (冷麦), and even thicker Japanese wheat noodles udon (饂飩) is that sōmen is stretched while hiyamugi and udon are cut.

SOMEN-COLD

Summer-style cold somen

Sōmen are usually served cold with a light flavored dipping sauce or tsuyu. The tsuyu is usually a katsuobushi-based (鰹節/dried bonito shavings) sauce that can be flavored with chopped thin leeks, ginger, or myoga. In the summer, sōmen chilled with ice is a popular meal to help stay cool.

SOMEN-COLD2
Somen Meal Sample

Fish stock can easily be replaced with konbu/seaweed stock if you vegetarian or vegan.

SOMEN-NAGASHI
Nagashi Somen flowing down a bamboo pipe.

Some restaurants offer “nagashi sōmen” (流しそうめん flowing noodles) in the summer. The noodles are placed in a long flume of bamboo across the length of the restaurant. The flume carries clear, ice-cold water. As the sōmen pass by, diners pluck them out with their chopsticks and dip them in tsuyu. Catching the noodles requires a fair amount of dexterity, but the noodles that aren’t caught by the time they get to the end usually aren’t eaten, so diners are pressured to catch as much as they can. A few luxurious establishments put their sōmen in real streams so that diners can enjoy their meal in a beautiful garden setting.

SOMEN-NYUMEN
Nyumen

Sōmen served in hot soup is usually called “nyumen” and eaten in the winter, much like soba or udon are.

SOMEN-CHAMPURU
Somen champuru.

In Okinawa, somen champuru are very popular with goya and tofu.

SOMEN-PLAIN

Plain somen

Somen are probably the easiest style of noodles to prepare.
Plain chilled somen with cold ponzu are such a great snack in summer.

SOMEN-KOREAN

A very similar variety of thin wheat flour noodles are called somyeon in Korea and are used in a dish called bibim guksu.

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

4 thoughts on “Japanese Gastronomy: Somen-The Basics”

  1. I have just bought them recently and used in a very randomly ùade stir-fry (I must say I love the decorative bands wrapped around them). The stream restaurants sound like a lot of fun, but for those who are good with chopsticks (I do practice quite often, but it takes years doesn’t it?).
    Thanks for this informative post!

    Like

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