Using classic Italian ingredients like olive oil and garlic plus fresh basil and cherry tomatoes, today’s recipe is a fusion dish that will drive your guests wild. Noodles are extremely popular in Japan. It’s now quite common to find Italian pasta recipes used with traditional noodles in both homes and restaurants.
This Italian Tomato Somen Noodle dish is fresh and flavorful. It uses easy to find ingredients and anyone can make it in their home kitchen. So let’s get some background on Italian Tomato Somen Noodles! Then, dive right into making it with our recipe and video.
What is Somen Noodles?
Somen are the thinnest of Japanese wheat noodles. They are also popular in China and Korea. Light, delicate and airy, they are popular in summer time and especially with fresh veggies, making them perfect for this Italian Tomato Noodle dish.
Like other popular Japanese noodles like Soba and Udon, Somen is served both warm and cold. Traditionally, people enjoy somen with a light dipping sauce (mentsuyu). In this recipe however, we will be using them much like angel hair pasta in traditional Italian pasta recipes.
Italian Food Influence in Japan
Because both Italian and Japanese food use noodles prolifically, the fusion of these two cuisines is pretty inevitable. And in fact, not only is Italian food immensely popular in Japan but vice versa. Japanese ingredients, and especially its wide variety of noodles, are making their way into Italian dishes in Europe with a vengeance.
In Japan, here are some of the most innovative ways people have been incorporating Italian fare into the national cuisine:
- Wafu Pasta – Italian food was first introduced in Japan back in the 19th century. Pasta became the first integrated dish. This is of course because noodles were already a national staple. Now Wafu pasta, which means Japanese influenced, ranges from classically Italian to mixed with traditional Japanese ingredients like sea urchin, seaweed and pickled plums.
- Japanese Pizza – The truth is that pizza has taken the entire world by storm. And Japan is no exception. But the Japanese have added some touches to this classic Italian dish that you just won’t find anywhere else. From expected offering like chicken teriyaki to brand new takes like crab and seafood, Japanese pizzas will wow anyone who tries them.
- Sushi Pasta – As we covered in our Summer Travel Series, pasta and sushi are being served together as a winning combo in Portonovo, Italy. Back in Japan this trend hasn’t quite caught on yet. But given the Japanese proclivity to catch on to any up and coming trend it is only a matter of time!
More About Noodles in Traditional Japanese Cuisine
Many people don’t know that Italian pasta actually came from Asian cuisine. According to legend, noodles were brought back to Italy by explorer Marco Polo in the 13th century. But in Japan noodles have been a staple for longer than anyone can remember. From ramen, which makes up the base of daily meals for many to specialty noodles like Soba, which is buckwheat noodle and is highly nutritious, noodles are central to Japanese food culture. Combining them with classic Italian ingredients, like we are doing here with the Italian Tomato Somen Noodle recipe is just a natural evolution of Japanese culture and traditions.
Italian Tomato Somen Noodles
- ½ lb Somen Noodles
- 1 pack Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 can Tuna
- 10 Fresh Basil Leaves
- 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 tsp Soy Sauce
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- Black Pepper, to taste
First, boil the tomatoes in a small pot, peel the skin, and cut in half.
Then, cook the somen noodles as instructed on the package. Cool them down with cold water. Drain and place in bowl.
- Mix the seasonings together in a medium bowl. Add somen noodles, tomatoes, and tuna. Serve on plate with thinly cut basil leaves.