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Minor Heat (from July 7): Cold noodles to the rescue!

When it gets warm, people are usually craving for something to cool the throat – noodles are a great choice, and of all the noodles, Somen (thin, dried wheat noodles) go down refreshingly smooth and light!

Japanese traditionally eat Somen noodles on July 7 – Tanabata day -

In my family, we ate Somen noodles cooked with dashi and eggplant. My grandmother made this for us often – a traditional recipe from Hokuriku.

INGREDIENTS (2 servings)

1 bundle Somen noodles 2 cups Dashi stock (water + 1 packet) Japanese (slender) Eggplant

2-3 tbs soy sauce (to taste)

2 tbs cooking sake

1 tsp mirin (sweet sake)

Pinch of salt (to taste)

Garnish - ginger, shishito peppers, scallions - whatever you like!


1. Prepare dashi stock - see Yumi's tip

2. Cut the eggplant in half, and score the outside in two directions.

3. Soak the eggplant in salt water for 10 minutes, then drain and rinse.

4. Separately, bring a pot of water to boil and cook the somen noodles for about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse well with cold water.

5. Put one cup of the dashi, soy sauce, sake, mirin and salt into a pot, and bring to a boil. Add the eggplant and simmer until tender.

6. Add the remaining dashi, cooked somen noodles, and return to a boil. Turn off the heat, let cool, and transfer to a container suitable for chilling in the refrigerator - at least one hour, but colder = tastier!

MAKE IT A MEAL - balance textures, colors, flavors!

Somen noodles prepared this way are light - not too salty or fatty, with a soft texture. Tempura, especially seafood, with stronger flavors and crunchy texture, makes a perfect counterpart to the noodles. You could even dip the tempura in the cold soup stock, but having a flavored salt on the side would provide added interest.

Other flavors that would round out this meal include sour, spicy and sweet. "Su-miso" is a sauce made from miso, Japanese mustard, and sushi vinegar. It makes a great dressing for many kinds of boiled green vegetables, or fresh vegetables like tomato, or cucumber.

Your choice of garnishes can help ensure a balance of colors across these three complementary dishes - black, white, yellow, red and green. In this case, the eggplant counts as "black", the noodles as "white", the su-miso dressing as "yellow", green vegetables as "green". Tempura shrimp could fill in the "red", or maybe a garnish of pickled ginger. Enjoy!


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