[Somen and Irizake]

Somen are thin noodles made of wheat flour, salt, and water. Because it is dried, it can be eaten all year round, but because it is often eaten cold, it is a popular staple of summer lunch meals in Japan.

There are two types of somen: "machine-made somen" and "hand-pulled somen. Machine-made Somen is made almost the same way as udon, with the dough stretched into thin strips, cut with a blade, and dried, giving it the appearance of thin udon noodles. Since there are few stretching processes, the gluten structure varies, and the texture, crispness, and firmness are not so strong. On the other hand, hand-pulled somen noodles are made by mixing wheat flour, salt, and water, coating the dough with vegetable oil, and then twisting it into a thin, round bar shape before drying. The process of twisting and stretching is repeated as the noodles mature, and the gluten becomes rope-like and smooth to the palate. The cross-section of the hand-rolled somen has small air holes.

After production, the somen absorbs its own moisture and the humidity of the rainy season, and undergoes a kind of high-temperature fermentation in the storage warehouse. Enzymes work to produce umami flavor. Passing through this rainy season is called "yaku". Somen noodles that have already passed the "yaku" period are said to be more firm when boiled, and are less likely to stretch when boiled. Machine-made Somen has a better flavor when it is freshly made, while hand-pulled Somen is said to be tastier when it has completed the "yaku" process.

Somen, which can be stored for a long time, has long been a popular summer food in Japan. Nowadays, it is usually served with soy sauce-based mentsuyu sauce, but have you ever heard of "irizake," which was used before the spread of soy sauce? The ingredients are sake, salty pickled plums, dried bonito flakes, and salt. Some recipes use kombu (kelp) or ume plum vinegar, so it may be interesting to try different ones. The salt content of soy sauce is around 15%, whereas the salt content of irizake is around 1%. It is an easy-to-use seasoning that is lighter than soy sauce. It goes well with marinades, grilled soaks, shellfish, and white fish sashimi.

400 ml sake
2 umeboshi (pickled plums) with a salt content of 18% or more
4g dried bonito flakes
A pinch of salt

1. Put sake, umeboshi, and salt in a small pot. Make sure the pickled plums are fully submerged.
2. When it starts to simmer over medium heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about half a minute, then add dried bonito flakes and simmer for about 5 minutes.
3. Remove from heat, strain through paper, and store in the refrigerator. Since it is low in salt, it should be used up as soon as possible.

This irizake can be used as a substitute for somen-tsuyu sauce by dividing it with chilled soup stock and adding a few drops of light soy sauce. Seiryugama's soba set can be used not only for soba but also for somen noodles.

Koizumi Glass's Schale
Noda Horo's Enamel Preservation Container
Seiryugama's Soba Set