Somen salad is a chilled noodle dish with toppings (like fish cake, cucumbers, carrots, and many more options), and a flavorful sauce poured all over the noodles. Here's how to make it.
Somen Salad. Just pour the sauce on top, mix, and you're ready to eat ^_^
Simple and elegant, so refreshing on a warm day!
Do you know about somen salad? It's a chilled dish made of somen noodles with toppings including kamaboko (Japanese fish cake), cucumber, carrots, egg, and green onion. The noodles are finished with a light and savory sauce made with chicken broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil.
Somen Salad makes for an easy and nutritious lunch. You can prepare all three components (noodles, toppings, and sauce) hours in advance, chill in the fridge, and then take it out to eat when you're hungry.
Somen Salad In Hawaii
I remember my high school cafeteria sold excellent somen noodles (noodles and toppings were pre-packed together, with the sauce in a separate container)...my friends and I would all crave that for lunch on hot afternoons. Such tasty memories!
Somen salad is also a popular potluck dish (along with Pan Sushi, Sushi Bake, and Mochiko Chicken) because you can double or even triple the recipe to make large quantities. DIY somen salad lunches are also fun. Just lay out the different topping options and everyone assembles their own bowl.
The best somen salad is the one you make at home. Let's first break down the individual components of somen salad...
Dried somen noodles
Soba noodles get all the attention, but I secretly prefer somen noodles ^_^
Somen noodles are Japanese noodles made with wheat flour. They're silky and thin, every bite feels so effortless. I love that somen noodles are also a great "blank canvas" that play well with many different toppings and sauces.
Important: somen noodles cook very quickly. Once you overcook them, they cannot be saved. Stay by the stove and watch the timer when you cook.
To cook the noodles, I first bring a pot of water to boil. Then add in the noodles and use chopsticks to stir them around (otherwise they will clump together).
I cook the noodles for exactly three minutes (check the somen noodle package for cooking times, different brands recommend different times), and then immediately pour them into a colander. Rinse the noodles under cold water (use your hands) for about 10 seconds. Rinsing them under cold water does multiple things:
- Stops the noodles from over cooking / cooking any further
- Cools the noodles
- Removes excess starch from the noodles
Somen salad toppings: kamaboko (Japanese fish cake), cucumbers, carrots, eggs, and green onion
The toppings are what make somen salad so fun. Below are the "traditional" toppings, but there are many ways to mix this up:
- Kamaboko (Japanese fishcake), thinly sliced
- Cucumbers, julienned
- Carrots, julienned
- Eggs, scrambled and thinly sliced
- Green onions, chopped
- Instead of kamaboko, you can use ham, Spam, or char siu. Feel free to use multiple meats. I often enjoy both thinly sliced ham and kamaboko in my somen salad.
- You can also add thinly sliced cabbage for more crunch/texture.
- Chopped cilantro is also another popular topping.
Key sauce ingredients (left to right): soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. Not pictured: chicken broth and sugar.
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This sauce is super tasty and pretty easy to pull together. All you need is:
- Chicken broth (you can use chicken bouillon if you'd like, I often use Better Than Bouillon which we get from Costco Hawaii)
- Rice vinegar
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
The prepared sauce
Just pour all these ingredients together in a small saucepan/pot, and warm over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
You can opt to use the sauce while it's still warmed, or chill the sauce if you prefer to serve chilled somen salad.
Pour in the sauce, mix and eat.
Somen Salad Method
Did you prepare all the toppings? Good!
Did you make the sauce? Great!
Did you cook (and rinse) the somen noodles? Super!
Now we assemble and eat. Put the noodles in a bowl. Arrange the toppings over the noodles. You can use as much or as little of the toppings as you like.
Then pour the sauce all over the noodles and toppings. Like with the toppings, use as much/little sauce as you'd like (this is a very flexible recipe).
Mix gently with your chopsticks, and then eat. Pretty easy, yeah? ^_^
Somen noodles, right after rinsing under cold water.
Somen Salad Temperature
Traditionally, somen salad is eaten cold. Many people prepare the noodles, toppings, and sauce in advance and then leave it in the fridge to chill for an hour or more. This is very refreshing on a warm day.
However you can also eat this dish at room temperature or even slightly warm, which is what I learn towards these days. After the somen noodles are done cooking, rinse the noodles under cold water for a few seconds. Then immediately place the noodles in a bowl, add the toppings, and pour on the (still slightly warm) sauce. Mix and eat.
Somen Salad. Mixed and ready to eat.
Somen Salad Recipe
See recipe below, hope you enjoy ^_^
- 2 bundles (3-4 ounces each) dried somen noodles
- 3 ounces kamaboko, thinly sliced
- 1 small cucumber, julienned
- 1 small carrot, julienned
- 2 eggs, scrambled and thinly sliced
- 2 stalks green onions, chopped
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- First step is to prepare all the toppings. Thinly slice the kamaboko (or can use char siu, ham, or Spam). Julienne the cucumber and carrot. Chop the green onions. Scramble the eggs, let cool, and then thinly slice.
- Second step is to prepare the sauce. Put the chicken broth, sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour in a small bowl and set aside.
- Now cook the somen noodles. Bring water to a boil. Slice in the two bundles of dried somen noodles and cook for 3 minutes. Drain immediately and rinse with cold water (this stops the somen from cooking and cools the noodles).
- Then it is time to assemble! Divide the somen noodles between two bowls and top with the kamaboko, cucumber, carrots, green onions, and egg. Use as much or as little of the toppings as you prefer. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
- Pour the sauce all over the noodles/toppings. Mix with chopsticks and eat. Enjoy ^_^