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Old 02-21-2014, 03:25 PM
 
Location: Heart of Dixie
12,448 posts, read 10,840,079 times
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I made udon soup for my wife last night and it was incredible.

For years we have enjoyed udon in local Japanese restaurants and I have always said "I need to figure-out how to make that." My first attempt a few years ago was quite disappointing because I used dried udon noodles and they didn't work at all. The consistency of the noodles just wasn't right.

Well, I finally "cracked this nut" and it was quite easy.

First of all, I found frozen udon noodles in a local Asian market . I suppose I'll try my hand at making the noodles myself at some point, but I wanted to get the udon broth right first.

I purchased the frozen noodles, kombu sheets, dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi), Nama Shoyu (soy sauce), mirin, scallions, and fresh shiitake mushrooms. I purchased Nama Shoyu because I had never tried "live" shoyu before - it's VERY good but you have to prepare yourself for the carbonation.

The secret ingredient to many Japanese dishes is dashi - a cooking stock made from water, kombu, and/or bonito flakes, and/or shiitake mushrooms. This is the base for udon and is what gives udon that subtle smoky seaweed flavor and aroma.

I won't post how to make dashi as it is very simple and there are lots of examples on the web. You can prepare a vegetarian version or prepare Kombu Katsuobushi as I did. However, I will give you a few tips. The dashi flavors and aromas are very subtle so you should use spring water, if available. Tap water could contain chemicals that may compete with the distinct aroma. Also, use the dashi as soon as possible because the flavor and aroma is most intense when fresh.

To 2 1/2 qts dashi I added 5 TBS shoyu (soy sauce), 4 TBS mirin, pinch of salt.
Bring to a boil and add thinly sliced onion and sliced shiitake mushrooms.
Cook about five minutes.
Add the frozen udon noodles and fresh spinach.
Cook until noodles are done (about six-eight minutes after water boils again).
Serve in large bowls and garnish with thinly sliced scallions.

I served ours with sliced roast pork shoulder added to the bowl . My wife was amazed that my udon tasted exactly like what we get at the Japanese restaurants .

You can add any vegetables/proteins you like. You can also add a fresh egg per person while it is cooking and soft poach them.

There are infinite variations of udon broth and I'm sure many of you have made udon from scratch. I posted this to motivate anyone who is looking to create a dish for their significant other that is easy yet has that WOW factor to make it a memorable meal.
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Old 02-21-2014, 03:57 PM
 
Location: Whispering pines, cutler bay FL.
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Well now I have to attempt to try this one, since I never had this soup before.

Hubby is taking me out to this Asian fusion place that has a waiting list for months this Saturday so will definitely try it, if they have it. It is our tenth anniversary and this place has been on my foodie radar for a while.

Of course I will try to do your recipe because I suspect that you are a perfectionist with your cooking, so I am sure that I will be amazed!
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Old 02-21-2014, 05:24 PM
 
Location: Heart of Dixie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubanchic View Post
Well now I have to attempt to try this one, since I never had this soup before...
Udon has a very unique and subtle smoky flavor/aroma that I just couldn't identify until I made it myself. Making it from scratch let me experience the flavors and aromas each ingredient contributes to the dish. That's how I found out the smokiness comes from the dried bonito flakes.

There are so many vegetable/protein ingredients that can be incorporated into this soup once the soup base has been perfected.

I also found out that true katsuobushi is made fromskipjack tuna - not bonito.
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Old 02-21-2014, 05:33 PM
 
Location: Chicago - Logan Square
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Glad you enjoyed making it! I had a similar experience a few years ago and regularly make Udon for lunch, it's a great way to get rid of leftover pork or beef. Dashi is definitely the key ingredient. Fortunately all the components are shelf stable, and you can order them online, so no matter what stores you have available locally you can make it.

While the instant Dashi is definitely not a good as fresh Dashi, it's still not bad. I keep frozen noodles, soy, mirin, and instant dashi at work and can make it by heating water in the microwave. I just bring a ziplock bag with leftover pork and some vegetables to work and throw it in the Udon stock.
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:07 PM
 
Location: Volcano
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There's a very large Asian population here where i live, so I'm easily able to buy fresh udon and ramen noodles, and the local variation on ramen called saimin, so I've never even looked for frozen.

But I have, in the past, bought shelf stable soft udon noodles in a pouch, and they're pretty good. They usually stock them with the dried noodles.
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Old 02-22-2014, 12:27 AM
 
Location: Heart of Dixie
12,448 posts, read 10,840,079 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenD View Post
...I'm easily able to buy fresh udon and ramen noodles...I've never even looked for frozen...I have, in the past, bought shelf stable soft udon noodles in a pouch, and they're pretty good...
All I have ever found here are the dried udon noodles - imagine my surprise when I found the frozen udon. I'm quite sure fresh will always beat frozen - my only option there is to make them myself.
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Old 02-22-2014, 04:22 AM
 
Location: SE Michigan
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My experience with Japanese cuisine has primarily involved sushi, which I adore. It's been a while since I lived in an area with a significant Asian population so my local shopping & dining options are limited in that regard.

This does look good though. How does dashi compare to miso broth? I buy the Kikkoman brand instant miso soup (purists are probably wincing, sorry) and enjoy that very much. They seem similar in regards to ingredients.
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Old 02-22-2014, 05:07 AM
 
Location: Florida (SW)
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When we visit japan.... ......some of the restaurants have a window on the street where you can stand outside and watch the chef, roll and cut his dough into those lovely fat noodles. There is a wonderful Udon shop near where we stay....sort of a diner I guess....mostly low tables with cushion seats along the walls.....and some tables in the middle....the wonderful aroma of the broth.....and lots of selections of what to have on the Udon.....pork slices, tonkatsu, the gently cooked egg. We are going over in May and I am so looking forward to Udon, and also Hakata Ramen...and a delicious seafood noodle dish called Nagasaki Champon. Chinese in origin but popular all over Japan.
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Old 02-22-2014, 08:14 AM
 
Location: Volcano
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chiroptera View Post
This does look good though. How does dashi compare to miso broth? I buy the Kikkoman brand instant miso soup (purists are probably wincing, sorry) and enjoy that very much. They seem similar in regards to ingredients.
Miso is a staple item, and miso soup is a popular breakfast dish. I've seen it included on the "Continental Breakfast" at US hotels that serve lots of Japanese guests. It is considered very healthy, because it is made from a living fermented soy bean culture with a fungus added. Can be eaten plain or with a few things added, like tofu, sprouts, mushrooms, scallions. Dried miso is tasty, but doesn't have the live culture. Westerners worry about the high salt content, but Japanese people consider it probiotic, like we do with yogurt.

Dashi is more of a broth to use as the base for a soup with substantial ingredients added, like meat, fish cake, greens, eggs, noodles, if I understand correctly how Japanese housewives use it. Gives a dish umami, the fifth basic flavor after sweet, bitter, salty, and... oh, what's the other one, Governor Perry?
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Old 02-22-2014, 08:59 PM
 
Location: Heart of Dixie
12,448 posts, read 10,840,079 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chiroptera View Post
...How does dashi compare to miso broth?...
Dashi is miso soup broth. You make the dashi then you add miso paste (red miso, white miso, or both), tofu cubes, thinly sliced scallions, and a few strips of roasted seaweed.
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