mom’s goma-dare somen noodles & shabu shabu salad (ゴマだれ素麺と冷しゃぶサラダ)

hah…. so hot in tokyo… i wonder what happened to the climate in this city. it just seems outrageous, with super strong sunlight and unbearable heat. walking only 5 minutes outside makes you feel dizzy, and makes it feel as if the sun just stabbed all over your exposed skin. i can’t remember any other summer being as hot as this year. the heat is absolutely unbelievable and the humidity swells up the entire body. tokyo seems to have turned into a tropical island without any oasis.

spending a day like this, it is quite natural that you crave for refreshing cold dishes, which is light and easy to digest. but on the other hand, you need to get sufficient nutrition to fight this evil weather. in order to fulfill these two requirements, i made the following dishes for our dinner the other day:

as the main course, i made “somen (素麺)” noodles, ultra fine noodles, to be eaten with “goma-dare (ゴマだれ),” sesame sauce. the sesame sauce shown here is my mom’s recipe, which i am very happy to share.

the side dish is shabu shabu salad, which is boiled pork slices (served cold) with steamed vegetables (cabbage, carrots and bean sprouts). actually, you can use many other types of vegetables for this, such as japanese radish, iceberg lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, etc.. its name “shabu shabu” is coming from one of the japanese onomatopoeia – you pick a thin slice of meat (usually beef) with your chopsticks, stick the meat in boiled water in a big pot in front of you. gently move your chopsticks twice or so, and the meat is ready – this movement itself, apparently, sounds like “shabu shabu.”

enjoy the dishes with an ice cold beer, and you will be fueled up for yet another summer day!

goma dare sauce a ala mom


4 table spoons of sesame seeds, ground
400ml of bonito fish broth
1 table spoon of brown sugar
5 table spoons of miso paste
1 cucumber, cut into julienne strips
5 shiso leaves, also cut into julienne strips

1. make the broth first – in a small cooking pan, pour the water and bring it to boil
2. before putting in dried bonito flakes (a small fistful), pour in a spoonful of water in the boiled water
3. put the bonito flakes, and boil it for 1 minute or so
4. take out the bonito flakes using a ladle with holes, and turn off the heat
5. let it cool down
6. in a large bowl, pour the ground sesame seeds and the broth
7. mix in the miso paste, one spoon at a time and melt it thoroughly each time (i use a ladle and chopsticks to do so)
8. pour in the sugar, and adjust the taste as you like it (put more miso paste / sugar if you like)
9. mix the cucumber and shiso leaves
10. cook the somen noodles (in a pasta pan with boiling water, cook it for 3 minutes or so, and when it’s done, drain the water, and rinse it with cold running water, drain it again, and serve it in ice water)

—> this is the somen noodles i always use, called “ibono ito”

you eat it like this (sorry for the hairy arm!):

shabu shabu salad


200g thin pork slices (if possible, ask your butcher to slice it as thin as prosciutto/ham)
1/8 cabbage (cut into 3 – 4cm wide)
1/4 carrot (sliced)
1 pack of bean sprouts
(you can use any other vegetables leftover in the fridge!)

for dressing,
1 spoon of rice vinegar (if not available, use white wine vinegar)
1 spoon of say sauce
1+ spoon of salad oil
a sprinkle of green spring onion, chopped
a sprinkle of brown sugar


1. in a medium sized pan, bring water to boil
2. boil the bean sprouts first, for 3 minutes or so until they are soft but crunchy
3. take out the sprouts using a ladle with holes, rinse it with cold running water, and then drain
4. in the same pan, boil pork slices until their colour turns brownish
5. take out the pork using a ladle with holes and put them in cold water (in a bowl), and drain the water once the pork is cold
6. on the side, steam the cabbage and carrots, and let them cool down when it is done
7. for presentation, lay the cabbage and carrots on a large plate, and on top of the layer, make a mountain of bean sprouts, and lay the pork over the mountain
8. make the dressing – mix in all the ingredients – adjust the amount of sugar as you like
9. pour the dressing over the shabu shabu salad before serving

it will hopefully look like this:

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