Indulge in a tantalising medley of flavours with our somen salad sensation! This recipe is a fantastic mix of noodles, vegetables and protein complemented by an umami sweet soy sesame dressing—a truly harmonious combination of ingredients.
Why You’ll Love Somen Salad
If you are wondering what somen salad is, it is a Japanese noodle salad topped with thinly sliced ingredients and drizzled with an Asian flavoured salad dressing.
The first word that always comes to mind when enjoying a somen salad is that it is so light and refreshing. It is delicate enough to have as a meal on its own or versatile enough to share at the dinner table. This salad always gets rave reviews at family gatherings!
As somen salads are meant to be served at room temperature or even cold, it is great for the hot summer months. They keep incredibly well, so they are easy to pack for a picnic lunch or a long day at the beach.
Somen salads, however, are not just for the summer. In fact, they can be enjoyed all year round as all ingredients can be procured at any time of the year. Some other noodle salads you may love for the summer can include pearl oyster mushroom noodle salad recipe or rainbow vermicelli salad with soy dressing.
You will also, of course, love it because it is easy to make and everything is quite affordable.
What Are Somen Noodles?
Somen noodles are a type of Japanese noodle made from wheat flour, water, and salt. They are very thin, about 1 mm in diameter, and have a pale white colour. Somen noodles are typically served chilled with a soy-based dipping sauce called tsuyu, or in our case, it makes for a great salad option.
Somen noodles are extremely delicate and translucent, giving them a light and silky texture when cooked.
Some people have likened them to angel hair pasta or vermicelli noodles as a comparison but they both do not have quite the same texture. They would, however, make for great substitutes.
What Is Kamaboko?
Kamaboko is a type of cured surimi, a processed seafood product common in Japanese cuisine. It is made from white fish, which is filleted, pounded into paste, and mixed with salt, sugar, egg whites, fish sauce and Japanese sake.
The mixture is then steamed, grilled, or fried until cooked and firm. Kamaboko is typically white in colour, but it can also be dyed pink or red.
The seasoned fish paste is then shaped into various forms, most commonly cylindrical or semi-circular shapes, and it is a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine and is widely used in various dishes.
Kamaboko is pretty much the same as imitation crab sticks which we use in our kani salad [Japanese crab salad].
Is Somen Salad Hawaiian or Japanese?
Somen salad is thought to be a Japanese fusion dish that is heavily influenced by Hawaiian culture. It is a recipe that draws upon both culinary traditions and is a popular Hawaiian dish often served at gatherings, picnics, and potlucks.
Over the decades, the Japanese influence on Hawaiian food has borne many delicious and fun dishes such as spam musubi, kakigori (shaved ice), and of course, the poke bowl.
Flavour/Texture: The flavour of somen noodles is mild with no distinctive taste. It therefore needs a good combination of ingredients to give it flavour.
Somen salad is fresh and vibrant, crisped up with vegetables such as carrot and cucumber. The kamaboko gives the recipe seafood sweetness, while the somen salad dressing is tangy, acidic and umami. The scallions or green onions provide soft pungency while the sesame seeds are nutty and earthy.
Ease: Somen salad is so easy to make. The ingredients are fresh and sliced thinly, and assembly is not at all complex.
Time: The somen salad will only take about 20 minutes. These are the fastest noodles to cook as it only requires 3 minutes.
These are the ingredients you need for somen salad:
Eggs: We are making 2 very thin omelettes and slicing them very thinly. They actually make for excellent toppers for a variety of our other salads, too, such as five spice tofu salad with Vietnamese ham or king oyster mushroom salad with yellow beans.
Kamaboko: Easily found in the fridge or freezer section of a Japanese or Asian supermarket. You can also get the white fish with the pink swirl in the centre, too, if you prefer. They are the same.
Cucumber and carrot: Nice and even julienne slices to provide the somen salad freshness and some crunch.
Scallion: Finely chop up some scallions or green onions to put on top of the somen salad. Love this delicate allium and all the flavour it brings.
Somen noodles: These wheat noodles are truly the best thing! They are dry noodles and come in packets. The Japanese aisle of your supermarket may have it (usually next to the ramen and soba noodles).
Sesame seeds: You will need roasted white sesame seeds. If they are not roasted, just toast them lightly in a dry fry pan to give them a bit of colour.
Avocado oil: You do not have to use avocado oil but this is my preference as it is odourless and does not have a strong taste.
Rice wine vinegar: This Asian style vinegar is a lot less tart compared to white wine vinegar. Gives the somen salad dressing a nice tang.
Soy sauce: The key ingredient in the dressing and all its umami flavours.
Sesame oil: A few small drops yield big returns. Sesame oil is extremely fragrant and such a delicious addition.
Variations and Substitutions
Other toppings: There are so many different toppings you can add to the somen noodles salad. However, some of the popular variations include ham, spam, char siu (Chinese BBQ pork), cabbage, cilantro, lettuce, pea shoots, edamame, and bell pepper.
Vegetarian option: Either fill the somen salad with more vegetable options in terms of quantity and variety or you can even add strips of marinated tofu.
Somen noodle replacement: There is no real alternative for somen noodles but understand that this is such a great recipe. Try getting angel hair pasta to replicate the thinness of the somen noodles. The next best thing would be vermicelli noodles.
Mirin: If you would like the somen salad dressing to have a little more sweetness and be fruitier, add 1 tsp of mirin.
Spice levels: If you want to really mix it up and bring it up a notch, you can add some wasabi or sriracha to the ingredients.
Step by step instructions for how to make somen salad:
Crack 1 egg and beat. Pour into a hot fry pan and cook a thin omelette. Set aside. Repeat with a second egg. Fold each omelette into thirds, lengthways and slice very thinly.
Julienne cucumber and carrot.
Finely chop scallion.
In a pot of boiling water, add somen noodles and cook for 3 minutes. Remove and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside to dry.
How to Make Sweet Soy Sesame Dressing
Add all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until well combined.
How to Assemble the Salad
On a plate or shallow bowl, place the somen noodles in the middle.
Add the kamaboko, carrot, omelette, and cucumber in a circle.
Place chopped scallions on top in the middle.
Pour dressing all over the somen noodle salad.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and a pinch of salt and pepper. Serve.
How to Make This Salad Perfectly [Expert Tips!]
Watch noodles: Somen noodles cook incredibly quickly. When added to boiling water, it only takes 3 minutes, so be sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overcook.
Stir noodles: Somen noodles sometimes stick together when cooking, so use some tongs or chopsticks to give it a stir while it’s bubbling away to prevent this from happening.
Cold water for noodles: Be sure to run the somen noodles under cold water when cooked to stop the cooking process; otherwise, they will continue to cook and become too soft. The water will also help remove any excess starch, giving the noodles some extra bounce.
Great Mains for This Salad
What to serve with somen salad? Try these delicious recipes:
For something a bit more substantial and so quintessentially Japanese, this recipe teaches you how to make oden (Japanese fish cake stew). Nice piping hot dish!
Frequently Asked Questions
You can buy somen noodles from any Japanese supermarket, most Asian supermarkets and perhaps even in the Japanese/Asian aisle of your supermarket. I can be found next to the dry ramen and soba noodles.
Somen salad keeps quite well. Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Do not dress the somen salad until you’re ready to eat as otherwise it will absorb the dressing and everything will start to get soft and soggy.
Somen noodles are not gluten free as it is made with wheat.
If you are looking for a light, healthy, and delicious noodle dish, somen salad is a great option. It is versatile and can be enjoyed by everyone. Watch your family devour it like ours does!
More Asian Salad Recipes
Somen Salad [Japanese Noodle Salad]
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Crack 1 egg and beat. Pour into a hot fry pan and cook a thin omelette. Set aside. Repeat with a second egg. Fold each omelette into thirds, lengthways and slice very thinly.
- Slice kamaboko.
- Julienne cucumber and carrot.
- Finely chop scallion.
- In a pot of boiling water, add somen noodles and cook for 3 minutes. Remove and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside to dry.
- Add all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until well combined.
- On a plate, place the somen noodles in the middle.
- Add the kamaboko, carrot, omelette, and cucumber in a circle.
- Place chopped scallions on top in the middle.
- Pour dressing all over the somen noodle salad.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds and a pinch of salt and pepper. Serve
- There are so many different toppings you can add to the somen noodles salad. However, some of the popular variations include ham, spam, char siu (Chinese BBQ pork), cabbage, cilantro, lettuce, pea shoots, edamame, and bell pepper.
- For a vegetarian option, omit the kamaboko and either fill the somen salad with more vegetable options in terms of quantity and variety or you can even add strips of marinated tofu.
- There is no real alternative for somen noodles but understand that this is such a great recipe. Try getting angel hair pasta to replicate the thinness of the somen noodles. The next best thing would be vermicelli noodles.
- If you would like the somen salad dressing to have a little more sweetness and be fruitier, add 1 tsp of mirin.
- If you want to really mix it up and bring it up a notch, you can add some wasabi or sriracha to the ingredients.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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