Japanese Summer Food: Sōmen
Now that it’s almost summertime, let’s talk about a Japanese dish specifically made to combat the summer heat. Sōmen is Japanese noodles made with wheat flour, however unlike many other types of Japanese noodles sōmen is served cold with a light flavored dipping sauce. Sōmen is also noticeably thinner than other Japanese noodles such as udon or hiyamugi. Sōmen can be eaten in the winter as well and is served in a hot soup and called “nyumen” but we’re going to focus on the various ways of eating sōmen during the summer. Here’s a more in-depth article we wrote a while back.
Nagashi-sōmen is sōmen served in a unique way. It is sent down a long bamboo slide that has running ice-cold water and diners are expected to catch the sōmen as it is coming down the slide. Sōmen not caught by diners are not eaten and considered wasted food so they are slightly pressured to catch the sōmen on their first try.
Sōmen is rather easy to make granted that you have an Asian supermarket near you to buy the sōmen noodle from. Here is a recipe from Serious Eats.
This dish seems to come with embedded culture and refinedness about but you can still have fun while eating sōmen. Thanks to Takara Tomy Arts, there is a sōmen-serving contraption that is as cute as it is fun to eat out of. Basically it’s a fountain you serve sōmen out of but there is a plastic mold for you to make penguin and polar bear-shaped ice to make your meal colder. It feels like you’re actually eating with the two frigid creatures (albeit geographically impossible and they’re really tiny but that shouldn’t stop you from having fun with sōmen).
Hopefully you get to enjoy some sōmen during this scorching hot summer.