There are several noodle categories in Japan. Udon, soba and ramen noodles are well known. But there are others called somen and hiyamugi. Somen and hiyamugi are both dried, straight, and thin noodles, which are made from flour, water and salt. Many people including myself don’t really know the difference of somen and hiyamugi. I guess you can call them either way.
Those thin wheat noodles are eaten mainly in summer as cold noodles, probably because boiling time is very short, due to the thinness. But they can be prepared as hot broth noodles.
Somen should be boiled first, just like the other dried noodles. And when the noodles are done, they are immediately rinsed under cold running water. The washed noodles are served in a glass bowl with ice cubes with dipping sauce.
Nagashi somen is a little odd way of eating those noodles. People scoop up flowing noodles in bamboo gutters with chopsticks, and dip them in sauce before eating. Kids particularly love this kind of venue.
Nagashi somen used to be one of the fun summer eating event, which people have to go to certain restaurants. But few years ago, a portable table-top kit appeared on the market, so that people can enjoy eating flowing noodles at home.
Somen noodles are versatile. Add prepared somen noodles to your favorite salad with extra dressing. It’s going to be a satisfying meal by itself. Try my cold somen recipe with vegetables and pork.