Summer is just around the corner, and its already getting really hot in Tokyo! Japan is infamous for its extremely hot and humid summers that last from May until late September, and trust us when we say its hot all the time. Japanese people have a lot of ways to beat the heat, and one of them is making and enjoying cold but delicious summer foods! And we aren’t just talking about ice cream; Japanese summer cuisine actually features quite a few savoury meals that are surprisingly refreshing on a hot night. Today we are going to teach you how to make two of the most simple ones, sunomono and somen!
So What are Sunomono and Somen?
1. Sunomono (Japanese cucumber salad) - Vegetarian/Vegan friendly!-2 servings
What you need:
How to make:
1First, start with the sauce. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and 1/4 tsp of salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk the ingredients together and taste it. If the vinegar taste is too strong, you can dilute it with water. Set this aside.
2Next, rehydrate your seaweed if necessary. This can be done by leaving it in a bowl of water for ten minutes.
3Now for the hardest step; peeling the cucumbers. If you want a really traditional sunomono, try to peel the cucumber in stripes so that you have some strips of skin, and strips without it. Then cut the cucumber into thin, round pieces.
4Take your remaining salt and rub it into the cucumber pieces. Let these salted cucumbers sit to the side for five minutes.
5Squeeze the water from the seaweed, and add it and the cucumber pieces to your sauce. Mix it all until the piece are well-coated. Finally, sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and enjoy it!
6And the longer it sits, the better it gets!
2. Somen (Cold Noodle Soup)-2 servings
What you need:
How to Cook It:
1First, make the soup base, which is called mentsuyu. Boil the sake over medium heat until the smell of alcohol disappears from it. Then add the mirin, soy sauce, kombu, and bonito flakes and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for five minutes. Drain the sauce through a sieve and set aside to cool, or pop it in the fridge to make it nice and cold!
2Now its time to cook the noodles. Somen noodles cook very quickly, so be careful to avoid overcooking them. Boil water and add the noodles, cooking according to the instructions on the packaging. Be sure to stir them constantly with chopsticks to keep them from sticking! Drain the noodles when they are ready and immediately rinse them with cold water.
3Cut the green onion into fine pieces, and grate the ginger if you are using fresh. Put these into small serving bowls to be used as toppings according to your taste.
4The mentsuyu you made is concentrated, so it needs to be diluted before you use it. Mix it with some ice water (you can taste it so see how strong you like the flavour!) in a small bowl. Add as much green onion and ginger as you like to the sauce as well.
5Somen is traditionally eaten by dipping it into the sauce! But if you are having a hard time doing so, you can also pour the sauce into a bowl with the noodles and eat it like ramen.
Have you ever had sunomono or somen before? Are you excited to try making them now? Did you try out our recipe? How did it turn out? We are open for comments and questions below!