When it’s hot outside you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen putting a meal on the table. You want to sit back, relax and eat. Enter zaru somen (Literally: basket noodles.) Chilled Japanese noodles, a delightfully light and mild sauce to dip them in, and some refreshing, crisp green onions make this the perfect dish for a hot afternoon or evening.
A lot of people think making Japanese food is difficult, but you’d be surprised at just how easy most of it is. Zaru somen takes about 5 minutes to make and uses just 4 ingredients counting the tsuyu, or soup base, which you can buy ready-made in the store. Better yet, all of this can be made ahead in the morning and taken for lunch if you want.
First, the hard part:
Boil some somen noodles according to the package directions. While that’s happening, chop some green onions.
Drain really, really well under cold running water to get the starch off the outside of the noodles.
Put it all on a plate.
Then dip those gorgeous, silky noodles in the broth and eat!
What? Were you waiting for the hard part? There really isn’t one.
You can have zaru somen as a snack, as a side dish, or as a full meal if you’d like. (I know I don’t have much appetite when it’s crazy hot outside.) If you’d like, you can add a little vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice to the tsuyu to brighten the dish up even further.
You can find mentsuya (or somen tsuyu) at most Asian grocers or on Amazon, but making your own mentsuyu at home is simple, and I’d recommend homemade tsuyu every time. having said that. There’s no crime in having a bottle hanging out in the pantry as well.
If you want to take pack your noodles for lunch, just make, drain and rinse the noodles as directed, then, while they’re still wet, slip them into a zip top bag, squeeze as much air out as possible, and simply run water over them at lunch time to refresh them. Or, if you’d like, you can make little bite-sized nests out of them as described here.
- 4 bundles somen noodles
- 1/2 cup mentsuyu
- 2 to 3 cups water
- 4 green onions
- Nori or furikake, as garnish.
- Divide mentsuyu evenly between 4 cups or small bowls. (1/8 cup per bowl.) Mix with 1/2 cup water in each cup. set aside.
- Boil noodles according to package directions. Immediately drain noodles and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Drain well and place equal amounts on 4 serving plates.
- Chop green onions finely and place 4 equal portions on small containers.
- Garnish with chopped nori or furikake.
- Serve cold.
What I would have done differently:
This recipe is simple, and really doesn’t need to be messed with much. You can jazz up the soup base a little if you’d like, and green onions might be the traditional topping, but they are by no means the only one you can use. (You’ll note in the photos I sprinkled a little furikake over mine.)
Feel free to play with this a little at a time and make it your own!
Links to other chilled noodle recipes like zaru somen
- Green Tea zarusoba noodle “nest” bento, from Lunch in a Box
- Cold Soba Noodles with Dipping Sauce, from Just Hungry