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The first time my husband found a bag of Capellini at a grocery store in America he said "It's like sōmen." Indeed, sōmen is about the same thinness as capellini and takes about the same time to boil - 3 minutes.


But unlike capellini, sōmen is always eaten cold in the summer in tsuyu broth or in a salad. Sōmen is made with wheat flour making it the thinner version of the more ubiquitous udon.


The only reason why I loved the summers in Tokyo was for the cold noodles. Sōmen, hiyashi-udon, hiyashi-chūka and zaru-soba became dominant menu items in local noodle shops everywhere and I made sure to stop in at least 3 times a week.


Ingredients for making all of the above were also featured in grocery stores, making a sōmen breakfast the standard choice on a Saturday morning.


I have become kind of a die-hard fan of Hakubaku brand noodles here in the states. They offer a whole line of organic Japanese noodles including soba, sōmen and udon. I have become pretty loyal to this brand after eating some pretty atrocious varieties including Shirakiku's "Zaru Soba."


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Sōmen on the right, Soba on the left.


The sōmen rundown:

Serves 1
1 bunch of sōmen noodles (they come bundled in paper ties) 
1 green onion, chopped finely 1/2 tsp of grated ginger
1/2 cup tsuyu


Sōmen preparation is pretty similar to preparing soba. The idea is to prepare the dry noodles to have a soft but tight texture.


1. Boil plenty of water in a large pot.


2. Add the sōmen noodles into the boiling water. Make sure to place the noodles into the water so they are not all bunched together. You can swish the noodles around in the water so they don't stick together.


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3. Make sure that the noodles are constantly rolling with the water. Boil for 3 min. I recommend using a timer because these 3 minutes go by really fast.


4. Cut the onions and grate the ginger.


5. Raise the noodles into a colander. To get rid of the "slimy" surface texture of the noodles, rinse the noodles with running cold water.


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6. Dunk the noodles in the colander into an ice bath.


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7. Serve the sōmen as is in the colander and ice bath. You never want lukewarm sōmen, so it's your best bet to take the noodles directly from ice cold water when eating.


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8. Pour the tsuyu into a little bowl and place as much sōmen as you can grasp into the tsuyu bowl. Add ginger and green onions to the bowl and swish it around with the noodles so all the flavors will adhere to the sōmen.


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9 Slurp and enjoy.


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This is definitely not capellini al pomodoro.

Column: Japanify
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6 comments

  • How is that brand of somen? I’m always weary of “organic”.

    kayoko on

  • love it! my zaru soba obsession is starting to wear a bit thin, this gives me something to switch to until I’m craving soba again.

    Daniel on

  • I love Ibonoito. I wasn’t such a fan of somen growing up, but I’m beginning to appreciate it more as an adult. Especially in summer.

    sakura on

  • Yeah I was weary at first too because it totally tooted the fact that it was “organic” but it’s actually really good, taste-wise and given the price. Ibonoito was my fave brand in Japan, but it’s pretty pricey here in the states.

    yoko on

  • Finally catching up on Umamimart… my family’s favorite way to eat somen is with kimchi, mayo, and a dash of sesame oil all mixed into the tsuyu (with whatever else in the fridge for additional condiments— eg shiso, myoga, negi…). Adds a nutritious & delicious oomph.

    emi on

  • Daniel – yeah I definitely switch back and forth from soba to somen during the summer to shake things up.

    yoko on

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