Our recent “Cook-Up” club had the theme of “food memories.” I have so many memories around food, mostly heavy, comforting holiday foods. But we were in the middle of a heat wave and I didn’t want to go near any of those. My mind kept wandering back to the heat of Summer in Japan when I ate cold noodles for the first time.
In my memory was a small shop in the mountains where there was a cold running stream that would carry the noodles to us. We would catch the noodles with our chopsticks and put them in the chilled dipping sauce.
When I told Mario about it, he expressed his doubts. So I started to think a little harder. He mentioned that it would be really difficult to catch slippery traveling noodles with chopsticks. And I agreed my memory must have been wrong. We must have used a scooping basket of some sort to grab the noodles. It was almost 30 years ago and I have been mis-remembering things lately. And he wasn’t questioning the noodle catching, just the “with our chopsticks” part.
The memory was so vivid: coming in out of the pressing heat and humidity to a cool cave-like restaurant and the sound of a running stream. And then to find the stream carried the noodles. I wanted to relive that delightful experience, so I searched around.
It turns out “nagashi somen” is somewhat of a “tradition” not just a restaurant gimick. And I found video! (I love the internet)
Take a look:
And they do use chopsticks! Makes me miss Japan.
Here’s the recipe (bamboo river is optional)
Chilled Somen: Light, flavorful and perfect for a warm day.
5 bundles of dried somen noodles (about 1 per person)
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1/2 cup Japanese soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Mix all dressing ingredients together and chill. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add somen noodles and stir. Bring the water back to a rapid boil and decrease heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain somen and rinse under cold water.
You can add the dressing or serve it along side a bowl of noodles as a dipping sauce. Serve it over ice to keep it cold and refreshing.