During the summer I find this thought running through my brain quite often..”hmmm, it sure is hot, what should we do for dinner?  I don’t want to turn on the oven or stand over a hot stove. I just want something light and refreshing and satisfying”.

LOOK! Up in the sky..ok, not up in the sky just whirling in my brain..It’s a salad! It’s a pasta!  NO, IT’S, (music builds to a crescendo)…. SUPER-SOMEN SALAD!

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It’s patently obvious that the summer heat is getting to me…

But honestly this is my go to hot weather dish for potlucks, block parties even impromptu get togethers.  You can make it ahead of time although it doesn’t take a ton of time, vary the toppings (which are limited only by your imagination) and it’s incredibly easy to make.  It is cool and refreshing, crisp, light and yet substantial plus it’s pretty!

I most likely asked for this recipe at a potluck or found it in a Japanese/Hawaiian Community cookbook, I actually don’t remember.  Over the years I have modified the recipe; I tweaked the dressing by adding a bit more soy sauce, added sesame oil to intensify the flavor, used Ponzu (citrus soy sauce) and added different vegetables both for flavor and texture.  I have used capellini pasta in place of somen noodles (sshh, don’t tell my Hawaiian Auntie Lil, she’d slap me upside my head if she knew I was using Italian pasta!) and gussied it up by adding fresh bay shrimp or crab.  I hope you try it and play with it to make it your own.  It’s delicious!

Summer Cold Noodle Salad- Somen Salad

Summer Cold Noodle Salad- Somen Salad

Ingredients

    Original Recipe: Tweaks in parenthesis:
  • 1 Lb. Somen Boiled (1 pound capellini, cooked al dente according to pkg)
  • Iceberg Letttuce, Shredded (romaine lettuce, shredded (1 1/2 cups))
  • Ham Or Char Siu, Chopped Or Julienned (honeybaked ham julienned)
  • 2 Eggs, Fried And Sliced Thin (julienned carrots, julienned cucumbers)
  • 1 Kamaboko (Japanese fishcake), Chopped (1/3 pound cooked bay shrimp or crab)
  • 2 Stalks Green Onion, Chopped (add cilantro leaves to garnish)
  • (1/2 cup grilled corn kernels)
  • Dressing:
  • 2 Tablespoons Sesame Seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/2 -1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Cooking Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Shoyu
  • Variations Add:
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Shoyu
  • 1 Tablespoon Ponzu (citrus flavored soy)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Double the recipe as it is not enough dressing for the recipe. You will have a bit leftover.

Instructions

  • To make the dressing I usually use a bottle or a jar. I add all the ingredients, half of the salt and shake well to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Start with half the salt, especially if you add the variations, which I always do, taste to see if additional salt is required. Do add the sesame oil as it adds more flavor than the seeds alone. The dressing can be make ahead.
  • For the salad, start with the noodles on the bottom of the bowl and arrange ingredients as you like. Toss the noodles with a bit of the dressing before adding the veggies. I usually put the julienned vegetables and corn on top of the noodles, than the egg and ham in concentric circles followed with the shrimp and green onions in the center. Contrast the colors for appeal. Garnish the top with additional sesame seeds and cilantro. The lettuce is spread on the outer perimeter of the bowl. Voila' a beautiful cold noodle salad!
  • If making the salad ahead of time, add the lettuce last so it retains its crispness.
  • Just before serving add the dressing, toss well and serve.
  • If you double the dressing you will have a little extra.
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Thanks for reading, comments welcomed!