Somen Salad

Somen salad is one of those things that's perfect if you make a few hours ahead. The noodles start to soak up some of the salty/sweet/nutty dressing, and get super flavorful. #somensalad #pastasalad #fishcake #potluck

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, 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.

Somen salad is a cold noodle dish (think Hawaiian + Japanese pasta salad!), making it the perfect dish to take along with you to your summer potlucks. #somensalad #pastasalad #fishcake #potluck

1 year ago: bubbly strawberry jasmine tea | avocado cucumber soup with mango salsa
2 years ago: pesto eggplant zucchini pasta | thai tea vietnamese coffee cake
3 years ago: panzanella | caramelized nectarine cake
4 years ago: fresh blueberry waffles | eggplant with chickpeas, feta and spicy tomato sauce

5 from 6 votes
Somen salad is one of those things that's perfect if you make a few hours ahead. The noodles start to soak up some of the salty/sweet/nutty dressing, and get super flavorful. #somensalad #pastasalad #fishcake #potluck
Somen Salad
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
Somen salad is a Hawaiian and Japanese pasta salad, made with somen, thin Japanese wheat noodles.
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Hawaiian, Japanese
Keyword: char siu, dairy-free, eggs, fall, green onions, hawaiian, japanese, kamaboko, lettuce, nut-free, pasta, pasta salad, scallions, sesame oil, sesame seeds, shoyu, somen, soy sauce, summer
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 523 kcal
Somen Salad Dressing
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 T rice wine vinegar
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
Somen Salad
  • 8 oz somen cooked
  • 6 oz kamaboko sliced
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • 1/2 head lettuce shredded
  • 2 eggs scrambled and sliced thin
  • 1/2 lb ham or char siu chopped
  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
Somen Salad Dressing
  1. Mix all of the somen salad dressing ingredients in a jar.
Somen Salad
  1. Toss the salad ingredients together. Add as much somen salad dressing as you;d like and toss to coat.
Recipe Notes

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.

more hawaiian / japanese fusion food

You may have queasy memories revolving the squishy meat product known as spam. But pan-fried, coated in teriyaki, and tucked into a rice and seaweed hug, it transforms into lunchtime hero spam musubi. #spammusubi #japanese #hawaiian #spam #rice #seaweed

spam musubi

Pack this furikake mix into glass jars for an easy holiday gift to give to friends and family! #furikake #chexmix #snack #holidaygift

furikake chex mix

Somen salad is essentially a Japanese pasta salad, with somen noodles, lettuce, fish cake, scrambled eggs, char siu, and a salty sweet dressing. #somensalad #pastasalad #fishcake #potluck

38 Replies to “Somen Salad”

  1. This salad! So colorful and pretty Heather! I absolutely want a huge bowl of it. Pinning for later! Happy Monday!!5 stars

    1. thanks, kim! i think the swirly pink fish cake makes it a bit cuter (;

  2. The eggs and bacon make this a breakfast salad for me hehehe. I always love the exotic ingredients you introduce to me….I have never heard of Somen noodles! Sounds delish 🙂

    1. haha. there’s char siu which is a little different than bacon (think pork tenderloin) but i can imagine how tasty crispy crumbly bacon would be here too (:

  3. This looks so delicious! We have to veganize this dish one day 😛 Thanks for sharing
    With love and sunshine ☼

    Patricia & Miguel

    1. oooh yes you definitely could! marinated tofu and gluten puffs (not that healthy but so tasty) would be good here (:

  4. Heather, this salad is so beautiful! I imagine its flavor, so tasty – sweet/savory/tangy! Oh yum! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. thanks, laura! it’s a little sweet in that super addictive way, without being candy sweet (;

  5. When I saw the photo I was so very curious about the ingredients and all I can say: beautiful ! This could be my perfect office lunch ! Thank you !5 stars

    1. thanks! i honestly don’t mind wilted lettuce lol but if you do, then i’d recommend adding the lettuce on top and mixing right before you eat.

  6. I have never heard of somen noodles. I usually just toss some olive oil through my noodles to stop them cooking 🙂

    1. i haven’t heard of that trick! somen’s super thin so it’s not as forgiving as say, penne, so i just run it under cold water just to be on the safe side (:

  7. What an interesting salad that I have a feeling I would really love. I bet that ham brings LOADS of flavor to it!!5 stars

    1. yeah! but honestly i bet salmon would be tasty here too, especially if you toss it with a tasty sauce before you add it to the salad (:

  8. Sweet, salty, tangy and most importantly beautiful! The flavors and textures sound so interesting Heather. Sure is delicious:)

    1. thanks, maria! (:

    1. thanks! glad you liked it (:

  9. I’ve never tried somen noodles, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for those at the grocery store. In the meantime, this salad looks delicious! Love a good homemade dressing too!5 stars

    1. yes! i haven’t seen them outside of japanese/asian stores but i’m sure you can find them in an asian aisle or online (:

  10. This salad looks so delicious Heather, loving the flavours and colour 🙂

  11. This looks delicious, Heather! It makes a perfect light tasting summer meal that I can enjoy again and again. I love the touch of sweetness the kamaboko imparts (and it looks so cute too).

    1. thanks! it’s so perfect for summer- i had hot soup the other day and was so hot afterwards that i just started craving this (;

  12. I associate pasta salads with summer too! This looks really tasty and would be lovely to have for a light lunch.

    1. thanks! salads in general are so much more of a summer thing for me- i like warm food when it’s cold, not from-the-fridge raw greens (;

  13. This sounds great, a really interesting mix of ingredients. I’d love to be tucking into a bowl for lunch!

    1. thanks, caroline! (:

  14. This looks so good! I could eat this at least once a day!

  15. I love your somen salad recipe! It’s interesting that you’ve combined the two cuisines – it makes sense to me, haha. I love thin noodles! Don’t get me started on char siu either. That’s my addiction, aha. SAM WOO IS THE PLACE! JK. Love your presentation!

    Nancy ♥

    1. i had to google sam woo real quick to make sure you were talking about the place i’m thinking of- i haven’t had char siu there but i remember it being really tasty! it’s been a few years since i’ve been, mostly because tasty garden was always open later lol.

  16. pretty colorful, simple, interesting and refreshing. I love your recipes.

    1. aw thanks priya!! (:

  17. I haven’t tried this traditional salad, but a fresh salad is a must for me for lunch especially in the summer.

    1. not totally sure it’s traditional (; it’s tasty though!

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