Cold Summer Somen with Sesame-Miso Dipping Sauce

Cold Summer Somen with Sesame-Miso Dipping Sauce

Enjoy a refreshing summer dish with this recipe for somen noodles and sesame-miso dipping sauce. Learn how to make the traditional Japanese dipping sauce using a suribachi mortar and pestle. This light and vegetarian meal pairs perfectly with needle-cut cucumber and scallions. Try this delicious and easy-to-prepare Japanese fare perfect for hot weather.

Here's my antidote to August swelter: refreshing cold somen with an unbelievable sesame-miso dipping sauce. These wheat noodles are thin like angel hair pasta, and take all of two minutes to prepare. And the dipping sauce is a function of mixing, not cooking -- so perfect for summer. The key is the suribachi, or a traditional Japanese-style mortar and pestle. I highly recommend you own one. The mortar is an earthenware bowl lined with grinding ridges, while the pestle is made from wood (the finest pestles are made from sansho pepper tree wood, which imparts its own delicate essence). The suribachi is ideal for grinding sesame seeds, the first step in the recipe; in fact, you can prepare the entire sauce in this one bowl (so fewer things to wash, another summer treat!). I topped my somen with needle-cut cucumber and sliced scallions, but you can use thin-sliced myoga or shiso, too (or both). Also, before you serve the noodles, place a few ice cubes on the plate you're using first. The ice cubes keep the somen cool, and also keep the noodles from sticking to each other. Light, vegetarian, hot-weather fare, this somen and miso sauce is so good, we've been eating it almost every week this summer. I adapted this version from the Sendai miso website (I love Sendai miso)...

Cold Summer Somen with Sesame-Miso Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sesame seeds (about 5 ounces or 140 grams)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Sendai or other red miso
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 400 grams dry somen noodles
  • 2 trays of ice
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into thin needles
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, both white and green parts

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the Sauce: In a suribachi (Japanese mortar), grind the sesame seeds into a paste. Add sugar and continue to grind until combined. Incorporate the miso and soy sauce, mixing well. Gradually add water, stirring to create a thin sauce. Chill the sauce in the refrigerator.

  2. Cook the Somen: Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a boil. Add the somen and cook for about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water to cool and stop the cooking process. Place ice cubes on the noodles to cool further.

  3. Serve: Distribute ice cubes onto 4 plates and divide the noodles among them. Top with cucumber slices and scallions. Provide a bowl of sesame-miso sauce for dipping with each serving.

Enjoy this delightful Somen with Sesame-Miso Sauce, a perfect dish for a hot day!