How to Boil and Chill Somen Noodles

Somen are thin, white noodles made with flour, and are refreshing when eaten cold. They're the ultimate summer food in Japan, when you don't have much of an appetite.

How to Boil and Chill Somen Noodles
Photographed by Manao Okamoto

Recipe by
Makiko Oda


Rice & Noodles



  • 200 g somen



Fill a pot with a generous amount of water. As a rule of thumb, this means 10 times the amount of somen. To boil 200 g of somen, you'll need 2 liters of water. Place the pot over high heat. When the water comes to a boil, sprinkle the somen into the pot.


Stir the somen back and forth with a pair of chopsticks until the water returns to a boil. This prevents the noodles from sticking together.


Once the water is back at a boil, reduce the heat to medium-high to prevent it from boiling over, then cook for a minute or two (refer to the suggested cooking time on the package). When the water is on the verge of boiling over, add 100 ml of water. This practice of adding cold water is called sashimizu. It lowers the water temperature far more quickly than reducing the heat. Be careful not to add too much water as this will lower the temperature excessively. Before boiling the somen, prepare a large bowl of cold water.


When the suggested cooking time is up, take out a couple of noodles and plunge them in water to taste and test the texture. If the consistency is to your liking, turn off the heat.


Empty the pot into a strainer to drain the water.


Plunge the somen, strainer and all, in the bowl of water and immediately remove. Discard the water.


Return the strainer to the bowl and place under running water until the bowl is full, then discard the water. Repeat this several times until the noodles are cool enough to handle. Place the strainer in the bowl under running water, and rub the noodles together with both hands to remove the viscous film. When the bowl is full, discard the water. Repeat this process of rubbing under running water three or four times.


Drain the noodles thoroughly by shaking the strainer vigorously.