Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer somen time...chilled in Donabe

Cold somen noodle is one of summer's signature dishes in Japanese culture.
I've been eating somen noodles 3 days in a row, and I never get tired of it.  Rather, I only look forward to eating more the next day.

And the best way to serve cold somen noodle is...with donabe!

I brought back a lot of somen noodles from Japan.  This time, I got different brands of handmade somen from Shodoshima Island of Japan.  Shodoshima is a small island between Honshu and Shikoku, and it's one of the top somen-making regions in Japan.  There are more than 200 somen producers in this island with the population of merely 40,000 people.

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This was an unique semi-dry uncut somen.  It was almost 5-feet long!  So, I cut them before boiling them.

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Chicken tenders were marinated in shio-koji and simply steam-roasted in my donabe steam-roaster, Tochinsai.  In just a couple of minutes in microwave, chicken came out perfectly cooked.  Once the chicken tenders were cooled down, I shredded them by hand and set aside.

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Somen noodles were boiled for a couple of minutes and rinsed in cold water.  They were served on ice cubes in a classic-style donabe, "Yu Kizeto".  Because of the porous body, Iga-yaki donabe is not only great over flame, but also works wonderfully as a "mini fridge".  You put ice cubes in Iga-yaki donabe, and the body becomes insulated and keeps the food cold for a long time.  So, the cold somen noodles stay cold nicely, and it also makes beautiful classy presentation.  Especially with a special wood fork for scooping somen!

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The handmade somen noodles tasted really really nice.  Wow, I just couldn't stop eating.  With my homemade dipping sauce, I served chicken tender and other condiments such as roasted sesame seeds, minced scallion, yuzu-kosho paste, etc.

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This was also handmade but dry somen, made from premium Haruyutaka flour from Hokkaido and sun-dried salt.  Dashi-maki tamago (Japanese dashi-rich rolled omelet) always makes nice accompaniment with cold noodle dish, somehow.

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Another somen noodle from Shodoshima Island.  It was also made from different special flour from Hokkaido (Tokachi region).This kind was aged for 2 years.  Yes, we even take somen and dipping sauce set to the beach!  It tasted especially nice between boogie boarding, even though eating out of plastic containers, last weekend.

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This last one is actually not somen, but it's Hiyamugi, which is also made from flour but a little thicker than somen.  This was Inaniwa Hiyamugi from Inaniwa Town of Akita Prefecture.  Inaniwa is most famous for its handmade udon (Inaniwa Udon) but they also make handmade hiyamugi in very similar manners as making udon.  This traditional noodle with 400 years of history takes 4 days to make.  We enjoyed it with my homemade miso-sesame dipping sauce.  What a treat.

Happy donabe life.