yeah, i know. it’s a great song, isn’t it?
don’t worry, this post doesn’t have anything to do with the 80s. it does, however, have to do with one of the simplest and most delicious foods japanese cuisine has to offer.
when my beautiful female better half came down with a nasty cold last week, i vowed that i would do everything within my power to make her better. did i bike to and from the store a bunch of times every day? of course. did i pick her up two different kinds of fruit tea so she wouldn’t get tired of drinking yuzu and honey all day? that’s a given. did i give her a neck massage and tuck her into bed every night? goes without saying.
but when your hubby tells you that they don’t want to eat because “nothing just looks that good,” you have to make some tough decisions. after all, you have to bolster their strength so they can fight off that nasty illness, but you can’t exactly go around making heinously spicy burritos or steaks without breaking their delicate little sick stomach. in such situations, i tend to turn a good friend of mine.
and that friend’s name is udon.
when june rolls around in japan, the weather takes a turn for the worst. these few weeks between spring and full-fledged summer are characterized on this side of the world by rain almost every day, intense heat, and truly ridiculous humidity. the japanese call this weather tsuyu, which is of course their word meaning “to die of asphyxiation because the air is so laden with moisture you could drown whilst walking to the grocery store.”
that being said, atrocious weather isn’t the only herald of summer. because of the amazing raw food culture that japan has, all kinds of tasty and extremely fresh foods start appearing in the mom and pop small restaurants all over the country the moment june swings into full-force. while it may seem strange to most of us in the west (with the exclusion of pasta salad, which i was never really that big on anyway), cold noodle dishes like zarusoba and hiyashi chuka become very easy to consume in quantity when the mercury goes through the roof.
and in my mind, there is no cold noodle dish that can hold a candle to sōmen. these japane
se noodles are made from wheat flour and have a milky white color to them, much like udon. but sōmen stand alone in that their diameter is extremely thin (less than 1.3 mm by definition), which makes them super delicate and incredibly fast cooking. once cooked and flash chilled, the noodles are generally added to a deliciously salty broth and topped with all manner of awesome fresh produce.
yesterday, i got to hankering, and decided to give it a go.