Sōmen (Japanese: 素麺), somyeon (Korean: 소면; 素麵), or sùmiàn (Chinese: 素麵) is a very thin noodle made of wheat flour, less than 1.3 mm in diameter. The noodles are used extensively in East Asian cuisines. Japanese sōmen is made by stretching the dough with vegetable oil, forming thin strands that are then air dried for later use. This is distinct from a similar thin noodle, hiyamugi, which is knife-cut.

Alternative names
  • Somyeon
  • sùmiàn
Place of originChina[1]
Region or stateEast Asia
Main ingredientsWheat flour
Regional names
Historical name
Literal meaningrope noodle
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese素麵
Simplified Chinese素面
Literal meaningwhite noodle
Korean name
Japanese name

In Japan, sōmen is usually served cold with a light dipping sauce called tsuyu. South Korean somyeon may be eaten in hot or cold noodle soups. Sōmen is typically high in sodium.[2]

Other names are nyūmen (煮麺) in Japanese, for a version served warm in soup, and the Chinese name guàmiàn (Chinese: 掛麵), which can be further classified into lóngxū (Chinese: 龍鬚; lit. 'Dragon Whiskers') for the variant with long and thin strands and fèngwei (Chinese: 鳳尾; lit. 'Phoenix Tail') for the variant with flat and broad strands.

East Asian cuisines


Illustration of a tofu seller (right) and a sōmen seller (left) by Tosa Mitsunobu, from the Songs of the Seventy-one Craftsmen (七十一番職人歌合 Shichijūichi-ban Shokunin Uta-awase), a poetry anthology written around 1500

Sōmen are usually served cold with a light flavored dipping sauce[3] or tsuyu. The tsuyu is usually a katsuobushi-based sauce that can be flavored with Japanese bunching onion, ginger, or myoga. In the summer, sōmen chilled with ice is a popular meal to help stay cool.

Sōmen served in hot soup is usually called nyūmen and eaten in the winter, just like soba or udon are.

Some restaurants offer nagashi-sōmen (流しそうめん flowing noodles) in the summer. The noodles are placed in a long flume of bamboo[4] across the length of the restaurant. The flume carries clear, ice-cold water. As the sōmen pass by, diners pluck them out with their chopsticks[4] and dip them in tsuyu. Catching the noodles requires a fair amount of dexterity, but the noodles that are not caught by the time they get to the end usually are not eaten, so diners are pressured to catch as much as they can. A few luxury establishments put their sōmen in real streams so that diners can enjoy their meal in a beautiful garden setting. Machines have been designed to simulate this experience at home.

South Korea

In Korean cuisine, somyeon is used in hot and cold noodles soups such as janchi-guksu (banquet noodles) and kong-guksu (noodles in cold soybean soup), as well as soupless noodle dishes such as bibim-guksu (mixed noodles). It is often served with spicy anju (food that accompanies alcoholic drink) such as golbaengi-muchim (moon snail salad).

See also


  1. "麺類雑学辞典「そうめん」". 日本麺類業団体連合会 (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  2. "8 Secretly Super-Salty Foods". 6 April 2015.
  3. Hiking in Japan - Richard Ryall, Craig McLachlan, David Joll. p. 177.
  4. Adika, Alon (September 21, 2013). "Tsushima: a boundary island of Japan". The Japan Times. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
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