Sugar Snap Peas, Shrimp, Somen
sugar-snap-pea-vines_2662Spring in the garden begins with hope; planting seeds is an act of faith, anticipating a bountiful harvest to share. In May, I planted a short row of sugar snap peas in the window box outside the dining room window. The picture in my mind was of green vines shading the meals we’d share together from the hot summer sun. The squirrels were quick to find the tasty treats I’d left for them. In June, I replanted the peas with a screen to cover them until they sprouted. They grew slowly, until July when we went to visit my brother; when we returned the vines had ignored the trellis to create an abstract work of pea “art” with lots of buds and flowers.

I also planted some nasturtiums at the front edge of the window box because they have brilliant peppery edible flowers and leaves. I anticipated that they would provide color once the spring/early crop of peas needed to be removed. After our short vacation, they were beginning to bloom below the pea-vine “structure.”

These fruits of my labor inspired this very seasonal meal.

Chilled Fine Noodles with Shrimp and Peas
Hiyashi Somen

adapted from: Japanese Cooking, a Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji
page 457
3 – 4 servings


  • 14 ounces somen
  • 1 pound shrimp cooked and peeled
    reserve the stock for the dipping sauce
  • 2½ cups sugar snap peas
    blanched and chilled

Dipping Sauce

  • 1½ cups reserved chilled shrimp stock
  • ½ cup mirin
  • ¼ soy sauce


  • 1 Tablespoon wasabi horseradish
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped green onion
  • a few nasturtium blossoms

Boil the noodles according to package directions. Drain in a colander and wash well with your hands under cold running water. The key is to wash the starch off so the noodles don’t stick together. I chill the noodles, and inevitably they stick together after taking them out of the fridge: no worries though because a quick rinse restores them to their slippery noodle-y-ness.

Cook the shrimp, with their shells, in a small quantity of water. Peel the shrimp. Strain the cooking liquid.

Combine shrimp stock, mirin, and soy sauce in a medium-sized pan. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

To serve:

Use individual glass dishes for the noodles. Use tongs (or your fingers) to pick up a small mound of noodles, place them in a bowl, repeat until each bowl has several mounds of noodles. Gently pour about ½ cup of ice-water over the noodles. Tuck a few ice cubes into each bowl. Top the noodles with shrimp and peas and flowers.

Serve the dipping sauce in separate small individual bowls. Pass the wasabi and green onions so each person can take what he likes.

To eat, add spicy condiments to dipping sauce. Pick up a mound of noodles and dip it into the sauce.
Chopsticks or forks work well.


Mikey is keeping cool with his lion cut. He’s such a handsome little man when he’s so well groomed. He’s old enough to drive, perhaps even old enough to vote!
He has also developed some kidney problems. The trip to the vet was traumatic for him. First, he was forced into a small cat carrier, then the whole wall lifted.
He saw that happen when we first moved to this house: he followed me into the garage without me noticing and when the door opened he ran like a rocket. It took some cajoling to get him from under the car. Since then he has avoided the door to the garage. In the vet’s exam room, he didn’t want to leave the cat carrier. We persuaded him, gently, and she examined him, poked him, cleaned his teeth… She left the room for a few minutes and I attended to Gracie.
Suddenly I realized that Mikey was missing: no where to be seen. I thought he must have slipped into the back room with the doctor. Then I thought, “No! This is Mikey!” I opened the cabinet under the sink, and there he was, just the way he gets into his office in my kitchen.
Mikey now loves the vet because she recommended that we feed him a whole can of catfood mixed with water to make sure he gets lots of water to help clear his kidneys. A whole can, everyday!!!


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