You probably won’t find somen salad on the menu in a Japanese restaurant. However, it’s a popular potluck dish in Japanese American communities and, as expected, feeds many. This recipe from Daisy Kushino calls for kamaboko (Japanese fish cake) but you can use surimi (imitation crab meat) instead. Like any salad, feel free to substitute or change proportions to taste. The dressing goes fabulously with field greens too.
1 pound dried somen noodles
Pinch of salt
Vegetable oil for brushing
½ medium head iceberg or romaine lettuce, shredded (3 to 4 cups)
8 ounces Chinese Barbecued Pork (page 165) or Virginia ham, cut into julienne pieces (2 cups)
6-ounce package kamaboko, cut into julienne pieces
2 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
Soy-Sesame Dressing (recipe follows)
Cook the noodles according to package directions until tender yet firm and still chewy. Do not overcook or the noodles will be soggy. Tip into a colander over the sink and rinse under cold running water. Drain and set aside.
To make the omelets, beat the eggs in a small bowl with the salt. Lightly brush the bottom of an 8-inch nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium for 1 minute. Swirl in half the eggs to coat the bottom of the skillet in a thin, even layer. Cook until the omelet surface is nearly dry and the underside is light golden, 1½ to 2 minutes. Lift the edge of the omelet to check. Flip and cook for another 1 minute or so. Slide onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining eggs. When cool, roll the omelets into fat cigars and cut crosswise into very fine strips.
Transfer the noodles to a large platter and arrange the lettuce, meat, kamaboko, green onions, and egg strips on top. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad. Toss and serve.
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar or distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Combine the oil, vinegar, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sugar, and salt in a jar with a screw-top lid. Cover and shake well. (Alternatively, whisk together all the ingredients in a medium bowl.)
Makes 1/2 cup.
*Recipe and image courtesy of Daisy Kushino, from The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook.*