Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hiyashi Somen (Chilled Somen Noodles)

Tanabata is a Japanese summer festival, typically celebrated on or around July 7th. The name literally translates to "Evening of the Seventh" - hence why it's celebrated on 07/07. This festival is meant to honor the meeting of Orihime (the star Vega) and Hikoboshi (the star Altair), two deities separated by the Milky Way. They can only meet once per year - on the seventh day of the seventh month. They are THE true "star-crossed lovers". However, if the weather is rainy on that date, the Milky Way will flood, and the lovers will not be able to reunite. So, the Japanese pray for good weather and also write wishes on tanzaku, small pieces of paper which are then hung on bamboo as a form of "wishing tree". At the end of the festival, the wishes are either burned or set afloat, much like the traditions of Obon, a festival meant to honor one's ancestors.

Unfortunately, here in Alabama, it rained pretty much nonstop from July 3rd through the 8th. But, I prefer to believe that Alabama's weather doesn't matter in Japan (because it doesn't), and that Orihime and Hikoboshi were able to enjoy beautiful weather and be reunited

One summer dish enjoyed during Tanabata is hiyashi somen. Much like zaru soba, somen is a cold noodle dish. Unlike soba, which is made of buckwheat, somen noodles are made of regular wheat flour - the noodles are very thin and delicate. Served with a tsuyu-dipping sauce like soba, somen is often served atop ice to keep the noodles ice cold in the hot summertime.



 Hiyashi Somen
adapted from La Fuji Mama and Kanako's Kitchen

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups dashi
1/4 cup mirin
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 lb dried somen noodles
1 seedless Japanese cucumber, sliced into thin ribbons
Grated ginger
Minced scallions
Thinly sliced shiso leaves
Wasabi paste

Combine the dashi, mirin and soy sauce in a small saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Chill completely in the refrigerator. 





Cook the somen according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water several times. 








Prepare a bed of ice cubes. Top with the somen noodles and thinly sliced cucumber. Place the ginger, scallions, shiso and wasabi all in their one individual dishes, and allow each diner their own small bowl of chilled tsuyu (dipping sauce). 









Use the ginger/scallions/shiso and wasabi to season the tsuyu to taste. Eat the somen by dipping the noodles into the chilled tsuyu. 

2 comments:

  1. I absolutely LOVE somen! So glad you featured it today. Think I am going to go make me some :)

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    1. Wonderful, Michelle!! I hope you enjoy this recipe :)

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