Somen Salad

October 6: National Noodle Day

One of the most colorful, attractive and popular potluck dishes in Hawaii is somen salad, a cold wheat noodle dish topped with slivers of fried egg (tamago), meat (char siu, ham or Spam), fish cake (kamaboko) and vegetables. The dressing is a sweet soy-vinegar sauce that complements this salad well. As a side dish, it is light enough to eat with an entrée. As the main meal, it is hearty and satisfying enough but not heavy. Somen salad can be prepared ahead of time and people can assemble the ingredients they prefer for themselves. But it is the presentation of all the toppings that make this a pretty and picture-perfect food.

Hawaii adapted somen salad from a similar Japanese recipe called “hiyashi chuka”, a cold ramen noodle dish translated as “chilled Chinese” food. The Vietnamese also have their tasty noodle bowls. They are all yummy in their own way. So celebrate National Noodle Day with oodles of noodles, colorful toppings and a delicious dressing—and serve up somen salad!

Recipe

(From Mary Ann P. and Phyllis S.)

For the dressing

  • 1 cup chicken broth/stock
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup shoyu (soy sauce)
  • ¼ cup sugar, granulated white
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil

Directions

In a saucepan, combine the chicken broth, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. Add the sesame oil. Bring mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Save for later (we bottle and refrigerate the rest).

For the salad

  • 1-2 eggs, beaten and fried, cut into strips
  • Lettuce, chopped/shredded
  • Cucumber, chopped into strips
  • Carrots, cut into “match sticks”
  • ½ block kamaboko (fish cake), chopped into strips
  • Char siu, ham or Spam, cut into slivers
  • Cilantro leaves and chopped green onion to garnish (optional)
  • 1 package (9 ounces) somen noodles, cooked and drained

Directions

Beat the eggs, fry in a pan and slice into strips.

Shred the lettuce. Chop the cucumbers and carrots into strips. Cut the fish cake into strips.

Cut the char siu/ham/Spam into slivers. Chop some green onions and/or cilantro for the garnish (optional).

Cook the noodles according to the package, about 2-3 minutes in boiling water. Drain. Rinse with cold water. Arrange the noodles in a tray. Garnish the top with the egg, vegetables and meat. Garnish with green onions and cilantro (optional). Serve with the salad dressing on the side.

Notes

  • Mahalo to our friends Mary Ann B. and Phyllis S. for sharing their somen salad recipes.
  • Substitute the kamaboko fish cake for kanikama crab meat.
  • Search our blog for more noodle recipes, like pancit and pasta.

Pancit Bihon

Pancit Bihon

October 6: National Noodle Day

Pancit bihon is often referred to as “birthday noodles” on Chinese restaurant menus in the Philippines. This rice vermicelli dish, stir-fried with shrimp and a mix of meat and a variety of vegetables, is frequently found at Filipino fiestas, especially at birthday parties, because the noodles symbolize “long life”.  It also looks colorful like the confetti at a celebration.

Pancit is derived from the Chinese pian i sit (translated as “something conveniently cooked fast”). Bihon (rice noodles) is the Filipino term used to distinguish the type of noodles used in the recipe, such as canton (egg), palabok/luglug (thicker noodles), etc.

Islander’s parents always prepared pancit for her family’s birthdays and continue to cook it for special occasions because of its symbolism. We eat different kinds of pancit at Filipino and Chinese friends’ events in the Philippines and Hawaii as well as on the mainland. We make it at home, too, when we just crave cultural cuisine for a change.

Although it takes some time to get the ingredients ready, the process for cooking it is really fast. Prepare pancit bihon for birthdays, special occasions and National Noodle Day—and have oodles of noodles and good luck for a “long life”.

Recipe

(Inspired by Mommy and Daddy)

Ingredients 

  • 1 package (8 ounces) rice noodles (vermicelli)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1-2 medium carrots, julienne
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced thin
  • 1 red or green cabbage, shredded to 1 cup
  • ½ cup pork or chicken meat, sliced thin
  • ½ cup Chinese sausage (lap cheong), sliced
  • ½ cup shelled shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 boiled egg, sliced
  • calamansi or lemon wedges

Directions

Soak the dried noodles in hot water for about an hour or until softened. Drain well.

Pancit Bihon

Prepare all the vegetables. Peel and crush the garlic clove, chop the onion, julienne or roughly grate the carrots, thinly slice the celery stalks and shred the cabbage. Also, slice the sausage and meat thinly.

Pancit Bihon

Shell the shrimps, if necessary. Heat the oil in a wok or large pot. Saute the pork or chicken meat until no longer pink. Add the sausage and cook well. Mix in the garlic and onions and stir until softened. Add the carrots, celery and cabbage and mix well.

Pancit Bihon

Stir in the shrimp. Season with salt, pepper and oyster sauce. Add the drained noodles. Gently mix until blended with the other ingredients. Stir in the soy sauce to add a little color and taste. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with sliced boiled egg and calamansi or lemon wedges.

Pancit Bihon

Notes

  • This dish is also named pancit bihon guisado. Guisado is derived from the Spanish guisar, which means “to saute”. Filipino foods are influenced by colonial Spain and neighboring China.
  • Avoid overmixing the noodles or they will break into short pieces. Keep the strands long for the symbolism.
  • Squeeze the juices from the calamansi or lemon wedges before eating to bring out the flavor of the pancit bihon.
  • Leftover pancit, if there is any remaining, tastes great, too, because the ingredients have blended well together. As a time-saver, this dish can be made a day before the party then reheated and garnished with fresh slices of boiled egg and calamansi or lemon wedges. People enjoy taking home plates of leftover pancit after a party for another meal at home and for sharing in the “long life” lucky symbolism.