Tomato Noodle Salad with Shiso and Umeboshi Dressing

I made this salad just for fun today and because it turned out well I thought it worth sharing. My tomatoes tend not to ripen or color until the end of the summer.  They are still very much green and growing out in the garden but I'm finally starting to get some colors with them too!  

I highly recommend growing your own tomatoes or buying them from a local farmer's market.  You don't even need an outdoor garden to grow them.  Home grown tomatoes actually taste sweet and are full  of flavor.  I take a bite of them and am reminded that they are actually a fruit.  My kids don't like eating tomatoes from the store and I don't serve them unless I cook them with other things.  The store tomatoes are tasteless.  Tomatoes from stores NEVER taste like anything!  And it's sad and annoying and disappointing... so I grow my own!

I picked the ripe ones last week and made this tomato noodle salad to bring to a BBQ party at a friend's house.  I also picked some green shiso leaves.  I love shiso so much that I feel like I should campaign about it here. If you don't know shiso, it's usually used as garnish at nice sushi restaurants and it's like basil, but slightly citrusy.  By the way, in the photo here these are not shiso leaves on top of this salad. They are actually out of sight, under the tomatoes.  

I used Japanese somen noodles for this salad. You can't really see those either though because I wasn't thinking photos when I made this! Regardless, I wanted to let my tomatoes shine in a dish.  Somen is very delicate and nice, but it's also very quiet and can be quite bland. Somen is a thin white wheat noodle.  You can usually buy dried somen just like spaghetti.  It's just like Angel Hair noodles and cooks in a couple of minutes.  After cooking somen noodles in hot boiling water,  you rinse them under cold running water until the slight sliminess goes away.  You can eat them hot in a hot broth or  cold with dressing like this salad I made.  

For the dressing I made a soy sauce based vinaigrette.  Also a little surprise in this salad are the pink pieces found in it. Those are chopped umeboshi!  Umeboshi is a pickled plum and is very common in Japan.  It's usually cured with salt and picked with red shiso leaves which gives that pick color.  It tastes a bit like pickled lemon because of the citrus flavor from the shiso leaves, but it is usually extremely sour as well.  It tastes many times more sour than pickled lemon.  I bought some made with apricots instead of traditional plums, from a Japanese farmer at the farmer's market. I also put some chopped umeboshi in the dressing.  If you've never had umeboshi or are curious to try it,  some stores have them in Seattle or you can make it yourself!  It's on my list of things to do in the near future. 

*If you are going to try making cold somen salad, make sure to pour the dressing on only right before serving. Otherwise the noodles will be soggy. 

This salad turned out perfect to bring to the fall BBQ party on such a gorgeous summery day : ) 

Recipe: 5 servings

3 bundles of somen noodles
4 medium tomatoes and 10 petite tomatoes
5 green shiso leaves
2 umeboshi
mizena or any salad for garnish

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin or sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 clove of garlic minced
1 umeboshi minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper

Bring water to boil in a large pan.  Cook somen noodles for 2-3 minutes in boiling hot water at medium heat.  Drain the water using a strainer.  Run cold water over somen in the strainer and wash noodles gently by hand until they are cool and no longer slimy.  Put the noodles in a serving bowl.  Julienne shiso leaves and spread over noodles.  Cut tomatoes into bite size and place over the noodles. Garnish the salad with minced umeboshi and a few green leaves.  Cover and let cool in the refrigerator.  

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar and shake it well.  Adjust the taste for your preference with salt and sugar.  Pour over the salad right before serving.  


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