Somen for Sunny Times

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Hello everybody! Has anyone been enjoying the weather lately? I know I have! That being said, it’s getting hotter and hotter as we approach summer and so for this week, I think I’ve got the perfect recipe for you: somen salad!

If you’re not a big “leafy greens” salad, don’t worry. Somen salad is not your “normal” salad. Originating as a Japanese dish with some inspiration from Hawaii, somen salad really has it all. You start with cold noodles as your base, and then from there you pile on loads of toppings/garnishes. Traditionally, there’s always some sort of protein (ham, eggs, etc) as well as a bunch of vegetables (kimchi, tomatoes, etc). The great thing about this meal is that the cooking/baking time is very little. Because it’s a “cold” noodle dish, most of your ingredients will likely be able to be eaten straight out of their container/packaging (after washing/cutting them of course). I feel that it really hits the spot in our current “shelter-in-place” situation. Here’s why:

  1. Customization: Somen salad is a very flexible dish. Below is our take on it, but if you don’t have certain items it’s really not the end of the world (although most of the toppings are relatively easy to get). You can try different types of noodles, different toppings, even different dressings! Although canned beans may not work in this particular cuisine, there are probably lots of other items in your fridge/pantry that you can use as garnishes/add-ons.
  2. Preservability: Somen salad is also great as a leftover item. You can have it a couple of days after you’ve made it and it tastes literally the exact same as it did the first day. If you run out of toppings, I’m sure that it’ll be easy to quickly make/cut some more. It’s rare to find a meal that’s meant to be eaten cold, especially now, so if you’ve just worked out or have been in the sun for a lot, it’s the perfect leftover food for you.
  3. It’s relatively healthy: While you might be consuming a bunch of carbs while eating this, it’s not the worst food. Go light on the dressing and balance the noodles with veggies/protein; you’ll be fine! There’s not a lot of cooking or baking involved in making somen salad, as many of the toppings are eaten raw/cold, so it’s not going to have a bunch of oil or butter or anything like that.
  4. It’s delicious: I seriously wolf down this dish when I eat it, no joke. The dressing has that tangy, yet slightly sweet flavor that perfectly brings connects all of the items. The sticky rice noodles are a great base because it can soak up all the dressing/excess ingredient juice and becomes really flavorful towards the end. It’s also very easy to eat.

Our recommended recipe (it’s not really a recipe, more like a “setup” guide:

Noodles: Any sort somen noodles will work. If you’re up for a challenge, after draining the cooked noodles, use a chopstick/fork to make fist sized “noodle balls” by twirling them around in the colander like you would for eating spaghetti. Making these “balls” makes it much easier for bigger parties of people to put the noodles onto their plate/bowl and it looks great as well!

Toppings:

  • Ham and char-siu (both store bought): we just cut them into small strips
  • Eggs: Just scramble them and then cut them into strips just like the proteins above
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Kimchi (if you like spicy foods like me!)
  • Dressing
  • Roasted seaweed: it really gives the rest of the food a boost both flavor and texture wise
  • Sesame seeds: they are also found in a lot of somen salad recipes (try them out!)

…and that’s it! Somen salad really is a unique dish in that it is eaten cold. I highly recommend it, especially because it’s so easy to make. Hey, it’s warming up! In these sunny times, you’re going to want some somen salad.

Have a nice, restful week!

 

One Comment Add yours

  1. Hi Nate,

    I was reading your post about somen salad and it made me think of two things:

    1) Man, this is my kind of salad, I’ve got to try it…. and
    2) Why do I dislike dates so much but love salads with dates in them.

    I know, the second thought is a little bit of a departure from your post (as the somen salad does not have any dates in it) but perhaps an idea for a future post: Foods you hate by themselves but love in a crowd!

    Like

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