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On the banks of a river flowing in the shadow of Mount Miwa in Nara Prefecture sits Miwa Yamakatsu, a sixth generation maker of delicious somen noodles.
Using only water & four other ingredients, Miwa Yamakastu produces some of the most delicate, bright and delicious somen noodles we have tasted. Two aspects of their noodles stand out to us. The first is their use of soft wheat flour. This low gluten flour produces a noodle that has a sweet taste and a bright white color. The other secret is their use of kuzu (kudzu starch). While most somen makers use oil to keep their noodles from sticking, Miwa Yamakatsu’s use of kuzu gives the noodles a wonderful silken texture.
The process to make high quality somen noodles requires time and care. It takes Miwa Yamakatsu seven days of mixing, resting, stretching and drying to produce a batch of somen noodles. The dough is mixed and stretched into one long, thick noodle. This long noodle is then put into a mechanical spinning machine (that looks like a long lost relative of a sewing machine) which makes each thick log into one very long and fairly thin noodle. After all of this working, the noodles then need a rest, so they are put in a wooden box for two hours. After this, the stretching begins…the noodles are amazingly elastic. The mechanical stretching machine is mesmerizing and produces the very long, thin noodles that we recognize as somen. At this point, the noodles are put in the drying room where (over the course of about seven days) they are dried from 40% moisture to 10%. The final two steps are cutting and packaging.
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