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.