Udon noodles are the ultimate Japanese comfort food, especially when they come in a steaming hot bowl of dashi broth. When we had some friends over for dinner the other night, we were eager to give them a taste of the kind of food we ate in Japan a few months ago. Fortunately, making your own udon bowl couldn’t be easier. Instant noodles only need to boil for a few minutes, so all you have to do is add whatever ingredients you like. This is a very basic version, but you can easily add more vegetables, mushrooms and a soft-boiled or poached egg. The secret to almost all Japanese soups is dashi: a clear and subtle broth that tastes like a dive in the ocean. Instant udon noodles often come with a little sachet of powdered dashi base, but there’s nothing to stop you from making your own dashi. It only requires 2 ingredients and takes no more than 15 minutes to make. Dried porcini, or shii-take, add another layer of umami and once soaked their meaty texture pairs wonderfully with the soft noodles. Top it off with some dried chilli flakes and don’t forget to slurp!
Ingredients (for 4):
400 g instant udon noodles
1.2 litres of dashi stock
1 postcard size piece of kombu seaweed
a handful of dried bonito flakes
1 block of yakko tofu or silken tofu (NOT firm tofu in any case), in 1 x 1 cm cubes
2 bunches of enoki mushrooms, ends cut off and stems separated
5 (a small bunch of) spring onions, roughly sliced or just quartered
1/2 stick of naruto maki (white and pink swirly surimi), sliced
a handful of dried wakame seaweed (soaked in cold water, then drained)
a handful of dried porcini mushrooms
- To make the dashi: Add the kombu to a pan with 1.2 liters of cold or lukewarm water. If you have enough time you can soak it in there for 30-60 minutes before you start cooking. If not: put the pan on low heat, so that the kombu can give its aroma to the water while it’s slowly heating up.
- Remove the kombu before the water starts to boil, when it starts to float to the surface and small bubbles start to appear.
- Add the bonito flakes, turn the heat up and bring to the boil.
- Take the pan off the heat just before the water reaches a rolling boil, wait till the flakes sink to the bottom, then pass the dashi through a sieve and into another pan. If using instant soup base, ignore all this and just add it to 1.2 liters of boiling water.
- Rinse the porcini and add to the stock.
- Now, there are 2 ways of going about the business: 1. What they probably do in restaurants: boil the noodles for a few minutes, drain and divide between four bowls. Pour the dashi stock over the noodles and add all your toppings and ingredients. Make sure everything is more or less covered in soup, cover up with a lid and leave for a minute or so to allow the veggies to soak up flavour and soften a bit. 2. What I did: boil the udon noodles in the dashi broth, then add all the ingredients. Stir well and divide between four bowls. This doesn’t look as beautiful as method 1, but it is very much hassle-free and tastes just as good.
This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. This month is hosted by Sophie at Cooking Trips and the theme is travel.