Tsuru tsuru! That’s the sound I made when I slurped up cold somen during a heat wave in Los Angeles. With 100-degree temperatures in the middle of spring, I desperately needed something to cool me down. Somen is typical summer food in Japan because it’s light, served cold, and fantastically refreshing. The bonus is you don’t have to labor over a hot stove—it’s almost as quick to prepare as it is to slurp up. On a sweltering hot day, the cool noodles, the salty goodness of the tsuyu (dipping sauce), and the bite of the wasabi make for a perfect meal. This was going to hit the spot.


Somen is a thin wheat noodle served in cold ice water. The tsuyu is very concentrated because the noodles don’t sit in the broth like hot udon or soba. Instead, you scoop some noodles, quickly dip in the tsuyu and tsuru tsuru! This is a very interactive meal that allows you to adjust the saltiness of the broth (thinning it out with water or adding more tsuyu) and add various toppings as you go.

I kept the toppings simple: thinly sliced cooked egg, mominori (crushed seaweed), wasabi, sesame, and green onion. The somen took 3 minutes to cook, the egg—cooked like a crepe—takes about the same amount of time, and the rest is just chopping. It’s a fast and hassle-free meal to prepare.


Makes 2 servings

Tsuyu (dipping sauce)
Between ⅓ to ½ cup dashi
1½ Tbsp. shoyu
1 Tbsp. mirin

1 large egg, beaten
2 green onions, chopped
1/3 sheet of nori
1 tsp. sesame seeds

Combine the tsuyu ingredients and bring to a boil. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate until cold.

In a 10” nonstick skillet, heat ½ tsp of oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, rub the pan with a paper towel to distribute the oil and wipe any excess.

Add the egg and tilt the pan so the bottom of the skillet is evenly covered. Cook until the egg firms up, but still looks wet on the surface. Carefully loosen the edges of the egg from the skillet and turn over. Immediately turn off the heat. Wait a minute for it to cook in the residual heat before transferring to a cutting board to cool.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. While waiting, slice the egg round into quarters. Stack the quarters and slice thinly.

When the pot of water comes to a rolling boil, add two servings of somen (they usually come tied in 1-serving bunches). Cook according to package instructions. Meanwhile, prepare a dish to hold the cooked somen. Add some ice cubes and water in a large, shallow bowl and set aside.

When the somen is finished cooking, drain and rinse with cold water. Then, using your hands, gently rub the noodles together under running water to remove any excess starch. Drain, then add to the serving dish with ice water.

Pour dashi into small bowls and serve with somen and toppings.

Download recipe (PDF)

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  1. Yoko
    Posted May 1, 2009 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I love Sōmen, too. Nothing is more refreshing than Sōmen in hot summer day. As an alternative taste, I sometimes like to add fresh ground ginger to the tsuyu instead of wasabi.

  2. Azusa
    Posted May 4, 2009 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I never thought to eat somen with grated ginger—I imagine it takes on whole new flavor. I’ll have to try it next time! Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Posted June 26, 2009 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Now that summer has finally decided to rear its humid head on the East Coast, I am on the prowl for easy (read: cool) recipes. This is going to be perfect. I can even imagine my 2-year-old adventurous eater mooching off my plate so she can tsuru tsuru!

    Anyway, I found you on TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my new site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.


  4. Posted June 26, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Thanks for reminding me how good this dish is; it’s been a long time since I”ve eaten it, and I’ve never made it at home, which is silly because I have just about all the ingredients. Going on my list of foods to make when it’s too hot to eat! :)

  5. Posted June 27, 2009 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I love that somen is easy to customize with whatever you have in your fridge. I’ve seen it served with broiled eggplant, poached egg, tomatoes… and a friend from Hawaii used to sprinkle with furikake.

    Enjoy some somen this summer and thanks for the comments!

3 Trackbacks

  • […] Somen Cold Noodle Dish at Humble […]

  • By Chilled Tomato Somen on September 28, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    […] Japan, but I have to admit it was strange to eat somen this way. I’m used to eating it with a dashi-based soup so the basil and garlic really threw me. But after a few bites I found the flavors to be spot on. […]

  • By Video: How to Make Dashi on September 21, 2012 at 10:45 am

    […] you’re wondering what to make once your dashi is done, here are some ideas: • Somen • Kinoko Gohan • Stewed Hijiki • Clear Mushroom Soup • Tamagoyaki • Misoshiru (video […]

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