Story of Somen, 소면, すめん: Art of Time-Honored Method

During the Kamagura period(1185~1333), noodles made though a completely different method arrived from Shila(kyung-ju:old korean tribe’s place). They were made from only the fines flour and milled by a machine. Vegetable oil was also used to keep the noodles from drying as the dough was stretched many times into long, slender noodles. The noodles, held together by a network of gluten, were firm and retained their shape after cooking in boiling water. In the Muromachi era(1336~1573), quality somen noodles were made using a better method and tools; these noodles remain popular today.

Art of Making Somen

Somen is a product of three simple ingredients:flour, salt and water. Flour is kneaded with salted water to make a noodle dough. The well-kneaded noodle dough is flattened and stretched using a rolling pin or by stepping on it.

After the dough is cut to around 4.5-cm(1.7 inches) thick slices and twised into a rope shate and then looped in a tub. Next, the dough ropes are pulled from the tub and put on a plate, brushed with vegetable oil, then returned to the tub. The dough is then aged in the covered tub.

The aged noodles are placed on a stretching tool and stretched thinner. The thinner noodles are then looped around two bars in a figure-eight shapte. These twisted noodles are aged again, and then they’re gently pulled and stretched. This aging and stretching process, which makes the noodles firm and chewy, is implemented slowly or repeated multiple times to achieve the finest taste.

The aging process is followed by drying in the sun. The noodles are hung from a drying machine that looks like washing poles more than two meters(6.6 feet) high. Chopstick-like bars separate the noodles to prevent them from sticking together as they dry. In this process, experience and technique with an understanding of weather and wind direction of the day are needed in order to dry the noodles evenly. The fully dry noodles are then cut with knife and divided into serving bundles, which are then wrapped in strips of paper. The somen noodles made by this time-honored method-which is still used today are called Handemand somen, 수제소면, てのべ そめん.

Do you know how to eat somen in Nagashi?

Guess what?! If I was born in my grand grand ma’s genetration, I wouldn’t have done house work all day. Never leave from kitchen.