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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Silky somen is angel-hair pasta, Japanese-style

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor

Somen noodles are highly refined, thin, white noodles with a silky texture, similar to Italian angel hair pasta. (In fact, in Thailand, they are called khanom chine, Thai for angel hair. A version called hiyamugi is slightly thicker, according to Linda Bladholm's book, "The Asian Grocery Store Demystified."

The noodles are made from wheat flour with just a bit of oil. They are sold in banded bundles of a few ounces each, often in packs of three or five.

Somen easily can be overcooked and tends to clump together if not properly handled.

For cold somen, drop noodles into boiling water and boil for a minute or two. Turn into colander and rinse immediately with cold running water. Add a little oil or dress noodles as desired, toss and chill. To use noodles in soup, drop them into boiling broth or dashi (Japanese soup stock) just before serving and cook 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately. Make just enough for the number of servings you need at one sitting.

To make a cold somen salad: Measure into a saucepan 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup shoyu, 1 cup dashi, 1/4 cup lemon or yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit) juice or Japanese rice vinegar and 2 tablespoons sesame oil; bring to a simmer until sugar is dissolved; remove from heat and chill. Prepare eight ounces noodles; drain. Toss with a dressing and chill. Meanwhile, julienne 1 small seeded cucumber, 2 cups napa cabbage or Chinese cabbage, 1/2 block fish cake, 2 peeled carrots. Arrange somen in large, shallow serving dish. Top with sliced ingredients and serve. Garnish with chopped green onion. (If you want a heartier salad, you can add bits of crab or well-drained tuna, char siu, ham, baked tofu or tamago — Japanese sweet omelet.)