4 Serves

4 x 100 g bundles of somen noodles

Your choice of Toppings
diced cucumber and diced tomato
2 tablespoons shallots (finely chopped, scallions)
1 tablespoon grated ginger

Dipping sauce
60 ml sake
125 ml mirin
125 ml usukuchi (light) Japanese soy
375 ml full-flavoured dashi
1 tsp sugar
60 ml rice vinegar

Bring a large pot of water to the boil for cooking the noodles.

Put the sake, mirin, soy, dashi and sugar in a saucepan, stir to combine then bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Add the vinegar and refrigerate for about 1 hour or until cold.

To cook the somen you can either add the loose noodles to the boiling water or, for a neater presentation, especially for a formal meal – tie a piece of cooking twine tightly around one end of each somen bundle before adding to the pot. Cook for 90 seconds to 2 minutes according to manufacturer’s instructions then drain carefully, rinsing with cold running water.

The somen should be tender but a little al dente. If the somen are in bundles – make sure you keep each separate and lay them on a large cutting board. Cut off the tied, uncooked ends of the somen and discard. Holding together one end of each cooked somen bundle, neatly arrange in a pleasing rounded shape, folded or swirled, over crushed ice on a really hot day, or simply divide the loose cooked noodles into a chilled bowl or a flattish woven Japanese basket. Divide the chilled dipping sauce in 4 small bowls (eg rice bowl) and serve alongside the noodles. If you wish, offer tiny dishes of 2 or 3 additional condiments for adding to the sauce as you dip.

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