Somen Salad…

I arrived back in Hawaii the other day to spend the holidays with family. This also gives me the freedom to make whatever I desire.  First thing on my mind was somen salad after seeing some buckwheat soba noodles on sale at the store. I prefer the buckwheat soba to the white noodles because of nutritional reasons.  However, the buckwheat variety is also the traditional type, so stick with it if you’re going for a traditional Japanese dish.  They are served hot in soups or cold like I’m doing here.  They have a nice nutty, rich taste.

The quality of these photos is not ideal because I don’t have my camera. I’m using my mother’s older camera (and it’s a Sony…ugh).

Soba noodles cook pretty quickly, in about 4-5 minutes. It’s important to cold rinse them right when they’re done, like you would if you were blanching vegetables, to prevent them from getting slimy from further cooking.

Somen salad, as it’s called locally (otherwise soba salad), can have really whatever you want in it.  Commonly people put nori, fried egg strips, green onions, etc.  I wanted to use pickled vegetables because the tartness of them compliments the somen dressing.  I put in takuan (pickled radish), as well as pickled cucumber and eggplant, kombu seaweed, green onions, and char siu (chinese, but oh well).

Kombu, prepared not dried, is an excellent addition to the dish. It’s salty-sweet-savory flavor really improves any rice or noodle dish in my opinion. In it’s prepared form, it’s called Kombu no Tsukudani, and is simmered in soy sauce and mirin.

The vegetables were great in the dish.  Locals may think “where’s the egg? or the nori strips?” but with somen salad, anything you want can be added.  There is no outline for this dish, and I liked the way this version came out.  And it was made on a whim, so that makes it even better.

Add in some teriyaki flank steak and a fat california hand roll and dinner is served.

Somen Salad

1 pack buckwheat soba noodles (three bundles)
pickled cucumber and eggplant (shibazuke)
pickled radish (takuan)
3 green onion, sliced thinly
kombu no Tsukudani
char siu, about 8 oz, sliced thinly

Bring water to a boil and add noodles.  Cook for 4-5 minutes and drain. Rinse immediately in cold water and drain.  Set aside.

Cut up vegetables and char siu into desired sizes.  Use as much of the pickled vegetables as you want. I used about 1/2 cup of each.

Top noodles with toppings and place in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Sauce:
1/3 c canola oil
1/2 c rice vinegar
1 t sesame seeds
1 T sesame oil
1/2 c soy sauce (use a good variety like Yamasa)
1/2 c white sugar

Place ingredients in a dressing bottle and shake vigorously until well mixed.  Keep cold until serving.

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