It was so hot last week that I couldn't muster up the energy to cook at high heat or eat a really hot meal. Thank goodness I had some somen on hand! Here's how my Japanese mother taught me how to cook somen noodles:
- Heat water until it comes to a running boil.
- Add somen (coveniently pre-wrapped into one- or two-serving bundles); stir occasionally.
- Add one more cup of water and leave until the pot comes to boil again.*
- Turn off stove, remove and drain somen.
- Wash somen under cold running water by rubbing a handful at a time between your hands. (It's pretty sturdy and can take it!)*
You can purchase the tsuyu (dipping sauce) either condensed or straight. I prefer to buy the condensed because I can dilute it to taste. I like to put the prepared somen over ice and a bit of water, then dip it into the tsuyu in a separate sauce dish. Since it carries some of the water from the bowl over to the sauce, this way of eating somen is itself a sort of natural diluting method. Lovely, too, and more substantial, with eggs (make an omelet and slice it very thinly, like the cucumber above), kamaboko (fish paste cake), and chopped green onion. (But I was too lazy. I had mine with a beer instead.)
* These are the additional steps I learned from my Japanese mother. Heretofore, I'd been making somen like I make my pasta (which our family Italian-American friend taught us how to do). She says that adding the water ensures that it will cook all the way and dilutes some of the film on the noodles, and washing it ensures that it's, well, uhm, clean. I don't know how much of a different it really makes in the overall taste, but what I've learned of Japan is that it's all in the details, so I'm glad to know (and apply) them when I can! (^o^)