Ika Somen Is Sashimi And Not Noodles?

Resembling like the thin white Japanese Somen noodles that are made from wheat flour, Ika Somen is made up of thinly strips of squid and is considered a type of sashimi.

This popular Japanese dish, is usually served with grated ginger and a special blend of concentrated soy sauce called “mentsuyu” (mixture of sake, mirin and dried bonito flakes).

Since squids are harvested out in large quantities in the Hakadote fishing port of Japan, it has become a specialty of northern Japan especially in Hokkaido where there is a constant supply of these cephalopods.

Squid somen by securecat, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by - Jennifer. White bowl to the right is the Ika Squid.

Is it Really Sashimi?

According to some culinary experts, they disagree to the thought of it being a sashimi dish.  But others disagree because they pointed out that the dish is considered sashimi because of its slicing technique of Ito Zukuri which is the technique used in sashimi slicing. 

A better choice than Squid?

Instead of squid, a relative cephalopod called the cuttlefish is best suited for this dish for reasons that is has a thicker flesh and a more favored ingredient in terms of culinary preference.

How to Prepare Somen

In preparing your Ika Somen dish, you have the option to cut the squid fillet into half or in three portions. Regardless of your cutting style, the important thing is to cut it vertically along the length of the squid which they said prevents it from becoming overly chewy. From every portion of the cut, you need to slice it down further into thin slices.  It must be thinly cut strips for it to be noodle like consistency at no thicker(width) than 1/5 of an inch.

Ika Sashimi Breakfast by Ms. President, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by Jennifer

The typical way to present this wonderful dish is to have the noodle squid bundled on a bowl which is similar to that of a dish of donburi.  It is top with grated ginger and a its own special sauce. Presentation may vary regionally where in Hokkaido, it is presented on a flat dish rather than in a bowl. Aside from the soy sauce and the lite spicing of grated ginger, you may opt to increase the spiciness by adding wasabi which has now become a popular trend. With its popularity, it has become a fast food item where you can find many pre-packed Ika Somen in Japanese markets.

Freshness is Key

As for the squid used it should always be freshly caught where you can easily distinguish with its semi-translucent skin. The Japanese flying squid are often used as the main ingredient especially during early summer where this species swarms the waters of Japan. During off season, big-fin reef squid has become a popular substitute.

Careful Eating Too Much

If you happen to love Ika Somen, it does not mean that you can eat as many as you can. You should take note that uncooked squid poses some health risk as the flesh of the squid maybe infested with a parasites. Always remember to consume this delicious Japanese dish in moderation as with others.