i think of somen salad as the hawaiian x japanese version of pasta salad. it's hawaiian in some ways too, but mac salad screams hawaiian more than somen salad. anyways, i tend to associate pasta salad with summers (and leftovers lol), so it felt like a good time to give this post, originally published in 2014, a makeover.
a few somen salad ingredient tips
somen is a type of skinny noodles that looks similar to angel hair pasta. because somen is really thin, it cooks fast, so err on the almost underdone side. i like to rinse it in cold water so that the cooking stops, plus the noodles are less likely to clump up together.
kamaboko is fish cake. it’s very chewy and firm, and has a slight sweetness. i love it, though i think it’s somewhat of an acquired texture (the taste is pretty tame, in my opinion). i like to get the non-dyed kind shaped into a domed log, since it feels more natural, though the swirly pink ones that i used here are undeniably cuter.
the egg should look like this, but most of the time i get lazy and scramble it. i like to season it with a little salt and sugar.
char siu is chinese barbecue pork. it’s this fairly thin piece of pork that gets lacquered with this sweet sauce. the sauce caramelizes during cooking and creates a really nice crust. you can find it at chinese stores with prepared food sections, like ranch 99 (also: ranch 99 or 99 ranch? i know it's the latter, though i continue to use the former). you can use ham or spam (like in musubi, highly recommend pan-frying!), but i highly suggest going for the char siu.
want a vegetarian somen salad? sub out the kamaboko and char siu for marinated tofu, or aburaage, the marinated fried tofu that, when stuffed with rice, makes inari (footballs!). kamaboko and char siu are pretty flavorful, so keep that in mind when you're adapting this (aka no plain chickpeas, please).
somen salad isn't super healthy; kamaboko is processed, and there's noodles involved. the involvement of a good amount of protein and some lettuce leads me to label this as healthy-ish. you could make this more vegetable heavy: i'm thinking arugula, zoodles, sauteed kale, shredded carrots, julienned bell peppers, etc. or you could sub in a healthier protein: maybe some roasted chicken, or shredded deli turkey.
there’s two ways i typically present somen salad. option #1 like you see here: you can place the noodles in a dish (usually a roasting pan), layer over the toppings, and pour the dressing over. i like this layering method when i'm bringing it to a potluck or gathering. option #2, say if you're having dinner at home or cooking for family: you can toss everything together. it’s faster, and equally as tasty.
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 8 ounces somen cooked
- 6 ounces kamaboko sliced
- 3 green onions chopped
- 1/2 head lettuce shredded
- 2 large eggs scrambled and sliced thin
- 1/2 pound ham or char siu chopped
- 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
Mix all of the somen salad dressing ingredients in a jar.
Toss the salad ingredients together. Add as much somen salad dressing as you'd like and toss to coat.
From Aunty Lily.
You can eat it immediately, but I like to wait a couple hours so that the dressing soaks into everything. If you're making it more than 3-4 hours in advance, I'd hold off on adding the dressing so that the lettuce stays crisp.