Tokoroten: Japanese Summer Seaweed Jelly Noodles
As I wrote about it before, we Japanese sometimes enjoy “Kuzukiri (葛切り)” noodles as a refreshing dessert during hot summer months.
In addition to Kuzukiri, there is actually one more traditional Japanese noodle with a fresh, cool appearance that is perfect for summer, which is called “Tokoroten (ところてん)”.
What is Tokoroten?
As you can see in the photo above, Tokoroten is a clear transparent Japanese jelly noodle made from “Tengusa (天草)” or “Ogonori (オゴノリ)” seaweed.
The seaweed jelly itself is almost tasteless, so before eating, it is usually dressed with “Sanbaizu (三杯酢)“, a traditional Japanese vinegar seasoning made from vinegar, soy sauce, and mirin that have been mixed together.
Since, with Sanbaizu sauce, Tokoroten gets a refreshing sweet-sour taste, the seaweed jelly noodles are not so much a dessert as a side dish, and are like a kind of salad to us Japanese.
Unlike Kuzukiri, Tokoroten is not chewy at all and has a smooth, jiggly, slippery texture, which gives you a pleasant feeling like Udon noodles when passing through the throat.
Where to Eat or Buy
In Japan, there are even shops that specialize in Tokoroten noodles, many of which are located in mountains and open only during the summertime.
Therefore, when Japanese people go for a drive to a mountain in the summer, we sometimes stop by one such place for a break and enjoy its specialty refreshing seaweed jelly noodles.
In daily life, we usually purchase Tokoroten in supermarkets and eat the jelly noodles at home as an afternoon snack or a side dish.
How to Prepare and Eat
The majority of those commercial Tokoroten products don’t need to be cooked.
As preparation, you just transfer the noodles to a bowl from the package and season it with Sanbaizu vinegar sauce and yellow mustard that comes with the pack.
As for how to eat it, we Japanese usually eat the seasoned seaweed jelly noodles with chopsticks like slurping ramen noodle soup.