Somen are a variety of thin Japanese wheat noodles.
Somen noodles are very thin, pulled noodles made from wheat flour. They are about 1 mm thick and round, with a pale color and very mild flavor. A variety called tamago somen contains egg in the dough.
Somen are traditionally made by kneading wheat flour, water, and salt to make a dough. After a rest period, the dough is rolled and stretched into ropes. These ropes are very carefully twisted and stretched very thin (about 1-1.3 mm thick). The finished noodles are then dried, cut, and packaged.
Some varieties of somen are aged for up to 2-3 years. The dried noodles have a very long shelf life at room temperature.
Before use, somen are briefly simmered (about 5-7 minutes) in a large volume of water, then drained and placed in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. The cooked noodles are then used in the final preparation. One popular way to eat somen is cold with a soy-based dipping sauce called tsuyu, with garnishes on the side such as scallions, sesame, and seaweed. The noodles can also be served hot in a broth, or added to salads and stir-fries.
In the special dish nagashi somen, cooked somen noodles flow down a stream of water and are picked out by diners to eat.
Various colors of somen
Somen with cucumbers, dipping sauce, and garnishes
Nagashi somen flowing down a chute
Korean variety of somen called "somyeon"
Cold somen with ice and garnishes
Somen in soup with beef and pears
Somen with fish