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Somen + salad = tasty

October 25, 2007

After a week filled with gunmetal skies, blustery winds and neverending drizzle, the sun decided to pop up and give us a couple of Indian summer days in Seattle. Inspired by the warm(er) weather–it hit 68F in the shade!–I decided to make a refreshing, cold somen salad. Somen is a skinny Japanese noodle, kinda like vermicelli but made from wheat flour instead of rice flour. They’re usually prettily packaged in neat bundles like so.

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My friend Scott Kushino’s mom, Daisy gave me this recipe. Originally from Hawaii, Daisy grew up on her mom and grandmothers’ healthy culinary creations made from the fresh vegetables homegrown on the island. When she moved to Chicago at 18, somen salad was one of many childhood recipes she took with her to the Mainland.

Though somen salad is Japanese in origin, when I told my Tokyo- born and bred (for the most part) friend Yuki about it she was a little bemused. “It sounds really good though,” she said. “I bet you can try it with soba (buckwheat noodles) too!” Hence I believe this dish is very much a Japanese/Hawaiian/American concoction.

By the way, if you’d like to learn a little more about Asian noodles, check out my article “Oodles of Noodles” that was printed in Priority magazine, the inflight magazine for Singapore Airlines (for those who know the commercial, please sing along: “Singapore Girl, you’re a great way to fly …”)

Somen Salad

Daisy’s recipe calls for kamaboko (Japanese fish cake) but you can use surimi (imitation crab meat; both kamaboko and surimi are made from the same basic ingredients, i.e. white fish) instead. Char siu aka barbecue pork is available at most Asian grocery supermarkets with a deli and what decent Hong Kong/Cantonese restaurant doesn’t have char siu on its menu? Like any salad, feel free to substitute or change portions to taste. The dressing goes fabulously with field greens too.

Time: 40 minutes

Makes: 8 servings

1 (12 oz) pkg. somen

1/2 head of small lettuce, shredded (about 2 cups)

1/2 lb char siu or ham, cut into matchsticks

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 pkg (6 oz) kamaboko or 6 sticks surimi, cut into matchsticks

2 stalks green onion, sliced into thin ‘O’s

Cook somen as directed on package. Do not overcook or the noodles will be soggy! Strain into colander, rinse with cold water, drain and set aside to cool.

Make omelets. Lightly grease a 6″ frying pan. Pour 1/2 of egg mixture into pan and roll it around to spread evenly, over low heat. When the omelet surface is nearly dry (lift edge to check if underside is cooked), flip. Cook another 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining egg mixture. When cool, roll omelets into fat cigars and cut into very fine strips.

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Transfer somen to a large platter and arrange lettuce, meat, kamaboko or surimi, green onions and egg strips an top. Just before serving, pour dressing (recipe to follow) over salad. Mix well and serve on individual plates.

Dressing:

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1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons rice or white vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
l teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a screw-top lid. Screw top on. Shake well.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. IvoriSalmon permalink
    October 2, 2012 4:48 pm

    Aloha, I’m going to try your recipe, looks delish! There is also a recipe that uses the same ingredients for the dressing but with the addition of chicken broth. My bro in law uses it and his is really really good! The broth really adds a “umani” kick to it. P.S. Love your site and esp your “insight” into your love of food and cooking. Mahalo.

    • October 4, 2012 1:07 am

      Chicken broth sounds interesting. Does it make the dressing too saucy though? Thank you for your kind words, I’m so glad you like my site. Please visit when you can!

  2. May 9, 2012 10:56 pm

    (Comment form Puna, on the Big Island) Spent some considerable time searching local cookbooks for this today. Glad I came online! My favorite recipe was from a phamplet from (I think it was) Bank of Hawaii, printed in the 80′s. This is pretty close, and possibly the same. Thank you!

  3. April 6, 2012 6:46 pm

    I love somen salad. I can follow the recipe and it tastes just like the “real Japanese” somen salad, but there’s something about the “real Japanese cook” who makes it. It’s one of the gourmet salads I miss in Hawaii. Yummmy and healthier than other salads.

    • April 28, 2012 12:11 am

      Hi Edna, glad it tastes authentic! I did get the recipe from a real Japanese grandmother. But yes, there’s definitely something to be said about the cook and their influence on a dish. I can never replicate exactly any of my mother’s dishes and I’ve stopped trying. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. nancy miyasaki permalink
    June 27, 2011 1:22 pm

    Thank you for your recipe! I made this for a large group bbq and it was a huge hit!

    • October 5, 2011 1:15 pm

      I’m so glad, Nancy! Thanks for letting me know.

  5. Leti permalink
    June 12, 2010 1:46 am

    Yes! Very excited to try this recipe. I had my first somen salad couple months ago and I’m hooked. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Priscilla permalink
    August 15, 2009 9:14 pm

    I was going to a potluck birthday party in a park in 80+ degree heat and thought, what could I make? Then this recipe turned up in my online search. I decided to try it. I actually always wanted to know how to make this dish. It was a hit! Everyone, including Japanese relatives thought it was tasty. So thank you very much for providing this recipe for all of us!

    • August 26, 2009 11:04 am

      Hi Priscilla,
      Somen salad is a great potluck picnic dish. Feeds a ton of people and no mayonnaise to contend with on hot sunny days!

  7. Melissa permalink
    July 17, 2009 5:01 pm

    I did a web search for somen salad and I was thrilled to find this site! This Somen Salad came out perfect! It was a big hit at a potluck. It was very refreshing in our hot weather. Thanks!

  8. linda permalink
    June 5, 2008 4:12 pm

    our church is having a hawiaan theme potluck and since my husbands ancestors (grandparents) were lepers on molokai, I felt it was necessary to make something authentic. thanks so much!!

  9. April 5, 2008 3:21 pm

    I am excited to try this recipe. I had it at a friends house in Hawaii, and have always wanted to have it again. Thanks!

  10. October 26, 2007 8:14 am

    This salad looks amazing. Should the somen noodles be cooked al dente like pasta? Or does that not matter as much?

    Also, great noodle article. But no Filipino noodles?!! Admittedly, I don’t know much about Filipino noodles either, but I think many of our noodle dishes are of Chinese origin. Not sure though, so don’t take my word for it;)

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