Thursday, July 10, 2008

Udon noodle soup your way

When I worked in midtown Manhattan, there was a Korean deli that, while typical in all other ways, had one special feature: make-your-own udon. At a little station, a cook would fill an enormous styrofoam cup (the size of a super-sized soda from a fast food restaurant) with plump noodles and broth, and then you would select your add-ins from a wide variety of vegetables, meats, tofu and garnishes. It cost $6.50 and was incredibly filling and satisfying. I used to walk all the way across town in search of the soup, which was only available during the winter months.

I was reminded of my love of Udon (and making it just they way you like it) recently when seeing a couple of posts pop up with udon recipes. One was on Just Hungry, and the other on Cook and Eat. I started with the Just Hungry recipe and some Japanese flour which was labeled "Hakuriki ko flower nisshin" and although it didn’t appear to be high gluten, I was assured by the store it was appropriate. Other than having to add quite a bit more water than suggested (in total, I used 2/3 - 3/4 cup water), the recipe worked perfectly. I tried it once in the Kitchenaid with the dough hook, and once in the Cuisinart with the normal blade attachment – both worked fine. Making the noodles was amazingly simple: no egg, no rolling through a pasta machine – just kneading, resting, rolling and cutting. If I said I spent more than 10 minutes of active time on the noodles, I would be exaggerating.

The broth was a little trickier. I found the Just Hungry recipe way too strong. Cook and Eat used Harumi’s recipe (for the udon noodles as well, which call for a mixture of all purpose and bread flours), and I have had great luck with hers in the past. Depending on your taste, you might want to dilute the broth. You can also buy a pre-made concentrated soup base and dilute it to your taste.

The fun part is adding your own mix-ins. I went with thinly sliced, sautéed pork shoulder, spinach, shiitake and enoki mushrooms, scallions and a healthy pinch of Japanese shichimi togarashi. You could add anything: broccoli, carrots, onions and chicken to name a few. Delicate greens like spinach need not be cooked – they wilt in the hot broth and are ready to eat by the time the soup gets to the table.

Udon noodles

See here or here.

For the soup (adapted from Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking: Simple, Elegant Recipes for Contemporary Tastes):

1 2/3-2 cups homemade udon noodles
1 cup dashi stock
1/3 cup basic mentsuyu sauce (see below)
finely chopped spring onions to taste
Add-ins to taste including: enoki mushrooms, fresh spinach leaves, shiitake mushrooms, egg, thinly sliced pork shoulder sautéed with a little garlic and ginger
chili powder or sichimi togarashi to taste

Metsuyu sauce:

4-inch piece dried kombu seaweed
1 cup water
1 3/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/4 cup mirin
2 tbs superfine sugar
4 1/2 tbs dried fish flakes

Heat noodles by pouring boiling water over them in a colander. Drain well and place in individual serving bowls.

Mix three parts dashi stock with one part Metsuyu sauce and heat in a pan. As it comes to a boil, turn the heat off and pour over the udon. Add in additional toppings. Sprinkle with spring onions and chili powder or shichimi togarashi to taste.


eatme_delicious said...

Beautiful photo!

Y said...

Oh yummy! I haven't had Udon in ages and it's the perfect weather here for it too. Plus, I've always wanted to actually make my own noodles!

Sweet and Savory Eats said...

I love to make soups like this. It's a great way to clean up random veggies in the fridge. Gorgeous pics, too!

Matthew Klein said...

Stunning photo! What's your studio set up these days? Are you using lights or natural rays?

Serena said...

Your blog it's very beautiful with gourmand recipes!

I'll be in NY from 29th july...
Do you have some cool restaurant to recomend me?

(sorry for my english)

Sabra said...

Thanks for your comments!
eatme_delicious: thank you!
Y: it's such a great way to start making your own noodles because they are so simple and don't require any special equipment
Sweet and savory: that's true! anything that you want to use up would work well in this!
Matthew: Hi! I'm still using natural rays - all the way!
Sere: Thanks so much for your comment. Ah, what a question. Sort of like asking which street you should walk down in paris! Buy a Zagat guide and have a look at the best food relative to your budget, the neighborhoods you want to explore and the cuisines you like - you just can't go wrong - there's so much wonderful food here.

Anonymous said...

Your photo is beautiful and the recipe sounds delicious.

Anonymous said...

Bravo. Great image. Love these flexible suggestions you make, then you can let the market and what's fresh guide your choices.

Anonymous said...

We'd like to invite you to participate in our July berry recipe contest. All competitors will be placed on our blogroll, and the winner will receive a fun prize! Please email me,, if you're interested. Feel free to check out our blog for more details. (Click on my name in the message header link to visit our blog. :)

Alexa said...

Your blog is simply stunning. I love the recipes you choose to feature and the photography is excellent. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This looks awesome - a really fantastic photo. I prefer this one to the shot in Harumi's book anyday.

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