Somen is eaten by dipping in chilled tsuyu, accompanied by condiments.
Thin and delicate, wheat-flour somen noodles are a refreshing favorite during the hot summer months in Japan. Somen was originally introduced here during the 8th century via Japanese envoys returning from China. During the Heian period (794-1185), somen became associated with various ancient court events, including Tanabata, the Star Festival.
Somen is made by mixing salt and water with wheat flour, and is kneaded and lightly coated with cooking oil to prevent the noodles from drying out, as they are then gradually stretched to an extremely slender diameter of less than 1.3 mm (.05 in.) using the weight of the somen itself, and then left to dry. These days, somen may be stretched by machine, but those stretched in the traditional method by hand are more prized for taste and texture. To prepare somen, dried noodles are cooked briefly in boiling water, then drained and rinsed under running water. Somen should then be served immediately, dipped in chilled tsuyu (soy sauce based dipping sauce) with chopped green onions and grated ginger.