Somen Noodle Recipe そうめん

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Somen  | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

When the weather is so hot and you lose your appetite, what do you usually end up eating?  Growing up in Asia, summers were brutally hot.  For me, my favorite go-to dishes on these hot summer days are Japanese cold noodles dishes such as somen and soba.  As you slurp Cold Somen Noodles dipped in tsuyu, you feel your body starting to cool in the summer heat.

Cold Somen Noodles | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

Sōmen (素麺,そうめん) are white Japanese noodles made of wheat flour and they are very thin, about 1 mm in diameter.  The dough is stretched with the help of vegetable oil to make very thin strips and then air dried (which is why you need rinse somen noodles after boiling).  Read more about the somen making process here.

Somen are usually served cold with a dipping sauce called Tsuyu (つゆ).  The dipping sauce is same Japanese dashi-based broth used in hot soup, but more concentrated in flavor.  The sauce is flavored with scallions and ginger.  You can also add shiso leaf or myoga if you can find them at Japanese grocery stores.  Along with somen noodles and dipping sauce, you can also serve additional ingredients such as shredded egg crepes (see How to Make Kinshi Tamago) and julienned cucumbers and ham.

Dried Somen Noodles

Jin, my friend from middle school, sent me these packages of somen noodles from Shodo Island where he currently lives.  The pink somen noodles are made of Ume (梅), Japanese plum.  Tenobe (手延) Somen from Shodo Island has made the region famous as one of Japan’s top three producers of somen noodles.  These somen noodles are hard to get oversea, but my favorite Ibonoito brand is available in Japanese grocery stores and I highly recommend this brand.

Enjoy and stay cool!

* We usually decorate the noodles with Japanese maple leaves, but I couldn’t find them so I use maple leaves instead. :)

Cold Somen Noodles | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

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Somen
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
Toppings
  • ½ inch fresh ginger
  • 1 scallion
  • Shiso leaves, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Myoga ginger, thinly sliced (optional)
Dipping Sauce
Instructions
  1. [Optional] Traditional Japanese restaurants tie up the noodles to enhance the appearance of the somen and this is how you do it. Tie the edge of somen noodles with cooking twine. This way noodles will stay in one direction while cooking. I normally skip this step for home use.
  2. Boil water in a large pot. When boiling, remove the wrapper.
  3. Add the somen noodles in the boiling water, stirring noodles with chopsticks so they don’t stick to each other. Cook according to the package instructions. If necessary, add a little bit of cold water in the pot to prevent overflowing.
  4. Drain somen in a colander and wash the noodles with hands under running water.
  5. Once noodles are cold, find the knotted parts of somen noodles and pick them up. Cut off the edge and discard. Hold each bundle gently and arrange it nicely on a serving plate. Somen can be served with ice to keep cool.
  6. Cut the scallion finely and grate the ginger. Put them in small dishes. Put Mentsuyu in small bowls and add cold (iced) water to dilute. Put small portion of scallion and ginger in the dipping sauce and dip the somen noodles to eat. Enjoy!
Notes
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

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  1. Ah! Now I know how restaurants get their noodles all liked up so perfectly. It’s been bugging me for a while. Weird obsession of mine. Love cold noodles so much. Do you mane your own tsuyu sauce?

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  2. The elegant presentation of the somen noodles elevates a simple dish into something very special. I may try tying my somen the next time I make them as I have a package in my pantry right now.

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  3. Your cold noodles look very refreshing and perfect for hot summer days. Of course the best part is that deliciousdipping sauce. Thank you for sharing another wonderful recipe.

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  4. Randy Morin

    Hi Nami,

    I love somen in the summer and make a somen “salad” which is a recipe my sister passed onto me originally from the LA Times. I cook 3 – 4 bundles of noodles and placed cooked noodles in a 9 X 14 baking dish. I cover the noodles with shredded lettuce, chopped green onion, kamaboku or imitation crab flakes, cooked shredded scrambled eggs, and pieces of ham. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and teriyaki type of sauce/dressing. Scoop out spoonfuls to each person. Yum.

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    • Hi Randy! Yes, I eat it like Hiyashi Chuka (with eggs, crabs, shredded egg crepe, etc) too! Moms always prefer to feed some protein and veggies with noodles, so I never actually had just noodles only… no matter how hot day it was. :) Thank you very much for your kind comment!

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  5. Nekona

    Woohoo! You are in my neck of the woods. If you find yourself in Santa Maria try the restaurant Atari-ya! Or you could try Goshi in San Luis Obispo. :)

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    • You live in such a wonderful place! We’re hoping to go back soon. I heard about Atariya and Goshi, and hope to try both one day! Thank you very much for your comment. xo

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  6. I actually grew up eating cold noodles during hot summers, too! I grew up in an area with a lot of Korean influence and getting a bowl of cold noodles or a cold noodle soup for lunch was very easy with all the Korean restaurants in the area. :)

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  7. Gorgeous photos, as always, Nami. I especially cannot take my eyes off the last one… I went yesterday to stock on some ramen noodles and soba in my Japanese shop and I was admiring how beautifully somen noodles are packaged. Frankly speaking I have never tasted them. Your refreshing noodles with sauce look so delicious, I already regret I haven’t bought any somen yesterday. Next time!

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  8. I find cold noodles one of the easiest things to eat ( and over eat!). this is presented in such a pretty way, how could you not want a bowl of it! I like to combine noodles types so I have plain, buck wheat and green tea on my plate. Your recipe is perfect!

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  9. I remembered the brutally hot summer days in Asia, especially Malaysia (probably the worst humid country ever…). I love cold somen noodles, plus the dipping sauce looks delicious with shiso leaves :) Now I wonder if I can find a vegan version of Mentsuyu…

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  10. This definitely sounds like the perfect thing to eat on a sweltering afternoon! I’ve cooked with somen before, but my concoctions have always been improvised and completely untraditional. I’m excited to give this a try!

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  11. I am often so overwhelmed when I go to the Asian market here in Seattle and see all of the varieties of noodles, I always wonder what different things you could do with them. I’ve often picked up these very noodles but always put them back because I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with them. Now I know. Thank you!

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  12. Yum!!! This looks so refreshing Nami.
    I’m really liking tying the end of the noodles… Makes it so much easier to handle.
    B/W turquoise plate…. Love;)

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  13. I just had Chuka Somen the other night with kinshi tamago and tomatoes on top. Sooo good! And your somen looks irresistible, too, Nami-san.

    Lucky you to have a friend who sends you ume noodles! 羨まし!(笑)

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  14. Carlyn

    These cold noodles have been a favorite of mine since I lived in Japan. There is nothing better on a hot summer day !!!! Thank you for posting!

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  15. Hi Nami!! Your pictures look amazing as usual! Really love how these cold noodles look! Thanks for sharing ur recipe on how simple it actually is on preparing this! Yummy!

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  16. Yes, perfect for summer time…!!! Our summers are not so hot, well, it’s for us, but when we compare with other countries, we really have a better weather. The hottest day could be 30°C, and feel we are melting :)

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  17. Candice

    Thanks for sharing this recipe, Nami. Sometimes when it’s so hot, it’s hard to figure out what to eat. I usually just think of eating salads. I will be making this soon even though it’s never hot where I’m at.

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  18. What a delightful dish with Somen Noodles. I haven’t tried the pink noodles yet. Is this just available in Japan? There is a large Japanese grocery in our area – Mitsuwa and I might go look for these ingredients there. Must try it soon. Thanks for sharing and happy weekend, Nami !

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  19. When we were in Shanghai they were having record breaking heat (hottest since 1898!!). I went on one culinary tour where we visited 4 hole-in-the-wall noodle places, but they all served HOT noodles :-/ Cold noodles are special to Japan I guess. Love those pink ume noodles!

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  20. I never thought about how to easily cook noodles together in bundles without them getting tangled before! Interesting—thanks for the tip! (Though it’s true; that’s not really necessary unless you really care about the presentation of a particular meal.) I loooove zaru soumen… it was just about the only thing I could bring myself to consume during July/August in Japan.

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  21. Cristina

    I always learn something when I visit your site, Nami! I could dig into that beautiful plate of cold noodles. I actually have some of those noodles in my pantry…but didn’t know really what to do with it! Now I do!! :)

    Have a lovely weekend. -x

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  22. My family loves somen and I cook it quite often. But I usually prepare them as noodle soup. Didn’t know I can make cold noodles with it. (I usually make cold soba noodles only) I’ve gotta give this a try next time. The smooth and silky texture of the somen must be wonderful in this cold noodle dish. I agree, the heat in the summer in Asia is just unbearable. It’s consider really mild in the west cost here, especially in your area. :)

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  23. I love all your cold noodle dishes. I especially love how they are dipped like this so everyone can customize their own flavor. Looks great. I have learned more about noodles now.. must check it out at my local Asian store. :)

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  24. My husband has been requesting these noodles and I wasn’t sure how to prepare them Nami. I have seen green matcha noodles like this the other day too. Colorful once look so pretty no? =D Thank you for sharing and I wish you a nice weekend!

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  25. What a great way to stay cool. I just picked up some soba noodles today to make a cold soba salad tomorrow for lunch. Next time? Somen! Thank you for sharing, my friend!

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  26. Nami-san, I am so excited to read this recipe! Guess what I have in my pantry and I was waiting for the right recipe to make them? Pink somen noodles made of Ume and my noodles are made by the same company you have in your photo. Love your idea of keeping the noodles in a perfect loop. Beautiful! Are you back home now or are you still in Yokohama? Ja Mata,

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  27. Thanks Nami, these are going straight to my lunch menu list! (I work from home, so I’m always looking for new great lunch ideas.)

    And I really adore your pots and serving dishes, are they from Japan?

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    • Hi Riitta! If you are talking about today’s post, they are from Daiso, which is a Japanese dollar store. I don’t think it was exactly $1 (Prices are between $1 to 5 ish?), but still it was a great deal. :) I brought some dishes and pots back from Japan this time and some of dishes and pots come from Japan, especially if it’s after late 2012-2013. :)

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  28. it is such a pleasure to learn so much about the rich heritage of Japanese cuisine from your blog, never knew that there exists pink somen made from plum and that it is decorated with Japanese maple leaves,noodles look beautiful and thanks for these information,love to learn them…HAVE A GREAT DAY!!! :-)

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  29. I LOVE slurping on somen noodles dipped in that sweet and salty sauce. I’ve been meaning to make some naengmyeon and this sounds perfectly refreshing and light as well. I appreciate you sharing your tip on tying the ends of the noodles! Brilliant! I’ll be on the lookout for the Ibonoito brand. The pink noodles your friend sent you are absolutely gorgeous. Plum tasting somen…very intriguing.. Hope you have a wonderful, relaxing Sunday, Nami!

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  30. You have a gift of being able to make the simplest dishes look absolutely amazing!!
    I have some of these noodles in the pantry so I will be trying them out in Summer, thanks for sharing :)

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  31. I’ve seen these noodles but never knew enough about them to actually buy them. I figured if I did they would sit in the pantry. Thank you for this wonderful post. Now I know what to do them and it looks good! Love the simplicity of a meal like this. So lovely and tasty. I’ve learned so much from you Nami! Thanks!

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  32. Linda | The Urban Mrs

    Cool idea! I never thought of that when cooking somen. I used to tear all the paper pieces, just like cooking pasta.

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  33. I though I’ve seen all sorts of noodles, but pink noodle? Definitely the first I’ve seen. It’s so dainty and pretty! Do Japanese decorate the noodles with maple leaves year round?

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  34. Nami, your recipes for the cold noodle dishes are so very appealing – I love them although I have never even made them and I love that trick about tying one end of the noodle bundle with cooking twine in order to keep the noodles “organized” – love learning something new every time I come here!

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