Happy Birthday America! Imagine being 239 years old. That begs for a celebration for sure. This holiday weekend we had lots of grilling, marinating, chilling and freezing. It is such a production but when you see satisfaction and delight on everyone’s faces as they partake in the feast – it all feels worth the work.
These past few weeks it has been extremely hot. In planning for the 4th we knew we would have to have some cold dishes. Yes, cold watermelon, cold potato salad or cold desserts are good but nothing like cool somen noodles.
Here in Hawaii we love our noodle dishes. I don’t think any party, buffet or plate lunch house doesn’t have some type of noodle dish. As a young girl I fancied vinegar. Shoyu, sugar and vinegar was a go to mix for vine ripened mango and guava. At an aunts house I tried somen salad and I was in love. However as I grew up I quickly found out that not all somen’s were made equal. I’ve tried many recipes, pre-made bottle sauces and non-compared to aunty’s sauce. This is a winner, tried and true potluck dish you would want to share.
2 Bundles somen noodles
½ Lettuce head sliced julienne style
Cooked Meat sliced julienne style (Char siu, ham, spam, luncheon meat)
2 Cooked scrambled egg sliced julienne style
1 Kamaboku sliced julienne style
2 Carrots sliced julienne style
1 Cucumber sliced julienne style
Green Onions chopped (enough to sprinkle as garnish)
Toasted Sesame Seeds (enough to sprinkle as garnish)
1 T oil
2 T sesame oil
¼ C vinegar
½ C sugar
½ C shoyu
Boil noodles according to package instructions. Drain. Rinse until cool. Drain well. Grab a serving of noodles (fist size) and twirl into a ball. Continue to make single serving balls to cover the bottom of a large platter. Layer vegetables, meat and egg over the noodles. Sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds. Combine ingredients for the sauce. Mix well. Allow guests to put their own sauce.
Vegetables are normally in this order: Lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, meat, eggs and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.
I’ve made it where each topping item was in a separate dish where guests could make their own.
I’ve tossed the entire dish together with the sauce. I do it this way only when I know I will not keep the leftovers or there will be no leftovers. Noodles sitting in sauce over night is not good. It gets mushy and spoiled fast.
My favorite is to make a pretty design. Lettuce is key. You can never have enough lettuce, so I sometimes layer the lettuce like a hedge around the dish covering half of the noodle surface. I then place the vegetables strategically such as a row of cucumbers, a row of carrots, a row of kamaboko, row of egg, row of meat and repeat until the entire surface is covered. Then sprinkle the garnish.
Another favorite topping is ocean salad. I love the crunch and salt that it brings to the dish. Just beware that your noodles will turn green wherever the salad is sitting. If your guests are familiar with ocean salad – no big deal. If not, you may want to leave on the side so they can add as garnish.
Noodles do not have to be twirled into a ball. I do that because the noodles can be a little sticky and it helps when guests serve themselves. It also gives me a good idea of how many servings I have.
I also like serving the noodles in a large glass bowl. I can quickly tell if too much water has settled from the vegetables and if too much sauce is sitting on the bottom.
The sauce, if served separately works well in a salad shaker bottle or condiment bottle where it can be shaken before application. The oils will separate and you will need to give it a nice shake.
I also double the dressing recipe. If you toss the salad yourself – the ratio is perfect. However, when guests serve themselves they tend to use more. It is so delicious that they just can’t help themselves!