By MiNa Kim
In the winter, I am all about the nabe-pas, or nabe parties, because they’re everything I ever want in (winter) life. The taste of the food raises my happiness levels exponentially, with the variety and amount satisfying that nagging feeling of something being missing. At the same time, the warmth radiating from the nabe puts me in a state of lethargic comfort while also bringing out the glow of my cheeks, amplifying the beauty of what my mama gave me. Just kidding on that last part.
This past week has been particularly warm, or dare I say even hot compared to the Aomori winter days that seemed to be with us only weeks ago. Just when I thought I would have to wait out our stupidly short bikini season before jumping back into my sinful, gluttonous eating habits, a wonderful Japanese family in town invited me to a “somen party” to celebrate/endure the heat. They told me that hot days such as these call for a somen party. The setup was super simple but freakin’ delicious nonetheless. What made it even better was being surrounded by wonderful people to share this awesome, simple meal. Actually, the best part was the crazy mountain of noodles that came through the kitchen door, but ya’ know.
Somen is a simple white wheat noodle that is super cheap, usually about 100 yen at the grocery store. It’s even available at Daiso if you find your nearby grocery store is more expensive. Just throw that s**t in boiling water for about 2 minutes, then rinse it in cold water. Dip it in some tsuyu* and you’re good to slurp or shove it into your mouth. What? Sounds a lot like zaru-soba? That’s exactly what it is, but with somen. Somen is a lot softer for those who don’t like the texture of soba. Boil some eggs or sausages to accompany your meal, call up some friends, and you got yourself a fun meal activity for a Tuesday.**
*Tsuyu is the dipping sauce. It is fish based and not vegan or vegetarian friendly. An acceptable alternative might be watered-down ponzu.
**Any day of the week is legal and acceptable.
Somen party ingredient recommendations:
Tsuyu (can be a bit watered down for those watching sodium intake)
Cut spring onions (for your tsuyu)
Anything you want to eat, really. Have fun!