Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Somen Salad

Sorry I haven't posted in a week, all, it's been a crazy week for me! Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I wanted to try a few more recipes from Harumi Kurihara's Japanese Cooking, and "Somen Salad" was next on my list.

Somen is a type of thin wheat noodle, usually served cold in the summer. This is a decidedly non-traditional Japanese recipe, though, as it calls for canned tuna and mayonnaise. It takes only a few minutes to make up, and is a great twist on cold pasta salad.

The recipe calls for 100g of dry somen (they come helpfully bundled in 100g bunches in Japan - a bunch of this size likely to be about as thick as your two thumbs together). If you don't have somen handy, angel-hair pasta would make a good substitute. Cook it as you would regular pasta, until it's al dente, then drain and rinse in cold water.

While the pasta is cooking, thinly slice some cucumbers. If you're cooking along in Canada, an English cucumber is your best bet. Japanese cucumbers are thinner and smaller than most cucumbers you'll see there. A lovely tip I learned from my Japanese teacher is that you can lessen the bitterness of cucumber peel by rubbing the outside briefly with a bit of salt, and then rinsing it. I've seen this tip repeated in almost every Japanese cookbook I've read, so this must be as common here as peeling cucumbers is in Canada. You want about a half a smallish English cucumber, sliced thinly and cut into half-moons. If you like a crunchier cucumber, salt the slices with a tsp of salt, and set them aside to drain for five minutes or so. When they've shriveled a bit, rinse them, and squeeze out the extra water.

The recipe also calls for 50 g of thinly sliced onion. If you have red onion hanging around, this would be great. I didn't, so I used another tip from the book, and soaked my onion in cold water for 10 minutes to remove the sharpness. It worked really well - I'd never heard that tip before! Cool beans.

Add everything together in a mixing bowl, along with about half a tin of drained tuna, 4 tbsp of mayonnaise (Kewpie brand , if you can get it - once you go Kewpie, you can never go back), and some freshly ground black pepper. Toss, and chill.


Hiroyuki said...

Interesting post! Didn't your teach tell you about "itazuri", placing vegetables like cucumbers and fuki on a cooking board, sprinkling them with salt, and rolling them on the cooking board with your hands?
Immersing in water ("mizu ni sarasu" in Japanese) is also common. For example, shiso leaves are often soaked in water after being shredded, so is cabbage (before being placed besides tonkatsu as a garnish).

Canadian Bento said...

Oh my lord, that looks awesome. Adding it to my must make list...my ever growing must make list that is!

nakji said...

It's even better on the second day! Yum.

Hiroyuki, she did teach me to press it on the cutting board with salt - it's such a great trick - you can smell the bitterness leaving the skin, and the cucumber seems brighter and greener after. I will definitely try to soak my cabbage before using it in coleslaw now, it must get rid of the sulfurous smell.