Food and Food: Home Cookin'03 May 2008 12:53 pm

I have been thinking about and craving udon or soba noodles the past few days. I had never really been that big into noodles until we visited Tokyo and I really got turned onto them there. Unfortunately I’ve been working a lot this week so I didn’t have time to go out and find a good bowl of udon (I pray there is a place in Edmonton that does them) and I didn’t have time to visit any speciality asian grocers, like T&T or this Japanese and Korean food mart on 99th Street.

I decided to make my own noodle soup at home, just visiting Safeway and Save On Foods, which are pretty run of the mill food stores, but I know I saw fresh noodles at both, so I was probably okay.

I got a recipe off of Epicurious [Soba with shiitake, pea shoots and leek dipping sauce], but edited it heavily. I had to pick up a good soy sauce and rice wine vinegar, and was worried…however Save On had a great selection and I ended up getting a good organic naturally fermented, low sodium, high flavour tamari soy. I’d recommend it, but will probably try other brands as well. Tamari is not a brand by the way, it’s a variety of soy. It’s a bit richer than shiro or other soys like the ‘basic’ koikuchi, and is even gluten free, for those of you on restricted diets. Both bottles were about $4 each, which was far less than I was prepared to pay, I have to say.

We had sesame oil. I think my favorite was the back that declared it THE KING OF ALL VEGETABLE OILS. Last I checked sesame wasn’t a veggie, but whatever. It did a great job adding flavour to my sauce and sauteed vegetables.

Anyhow, my recipe ended up being something like this:

Udon Noodles with dipping sauce

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar (I would probably add less next time)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • splash of sesame seed oil
  • sliced garlic and ginger (to taste)
  • sliced leeks, mushrooms (I used oyster, but shiitakes would be great), julienned carrots. These are for sauteeing with sesame oil
  • sliced garlic, ginger, green onions, radish (or daikon), watercress (substitution for pea shoots) all for adding uncooked to the broth
  • packs of fresh noodles, udon preferred

I brought the soy and rice vinegar to a boil, then simmered it with the garlic, ginger, sesame oil and water for no particular length of time. I kept it hot until serving, but in the summer months it’s perfectly acceptable to eat the broth cold. Soba are served with cold broth in the summer and hot in the winter in Japan.

Meanwhile, I sauteed and softened the vegetables, seasoning well. A large pot of water was boiling for the noodles, which cook for about three minutes, or according to the package.

When everything is ready, put some vegetables in a bowl, add some broth, then add your fresh ingredients to top it off with. Serve the noodles on the side and dip into the sauce/broth; this is a very easy and inexpensive meal!

My ‘hot’ vegetables. LOTS of leek for flavour.

Some of the fresh ingredients. I sauteed some carrots but also served some raw. The uncooked vegetables and condiments add some crunch to the broth.

Oh god, the noodles! I ended up buying three different kinds, mostly because of the lack of selection. There were some fresh Shanghai noodles in the produce section and in the Asian foods, two packs of these brainy looking udon noodles. One pack was $0.88 and the other $1.20, because it came with curry sauce which I did not use.

I decided to cook the noodles separately so Mike and I could see which ones we liked best, so it turned out well, but it was kind of of a harried run around the store looking for noodles, which I assumed would be in stock and easy to find. I can’t wait to visit a store where they will actually sell other kinds including actual soba.

They came out of the pack like a solid brick and kind of creeped me out. Just put them in the boiling water without breaking them up, they will be easier to eat.

This was the last pack of plain udons at the store. I couldn’t help but think about how bad prepacked ramen noodles are here from grocery stores, but these were pretty good. Unless I’m just in denial.

I love that in French they appear to be “U-Dong” noodles.

Here is the finished set up (minus a bowl of noodles which were not ready yet). Dip the noodles into the broth and slurp them up, as is expected at Japanese restaurants. The chopsticks were actually a wedding favour for my friend Dan and Roz’s wedding and Mike was super excited to use them, he’d been waiting a while for the right moment.

Although I’ve thought about making sushi at home for a while, I’m not sure I’m ready. These udon noodles though…they’ll be added to my “oh god, what am I going to eat tonight” roster. So easy, and highly variable depending on what is fresh at the store or market!

4 Responses to “Udon”

  1. on 03 May 2008 at 3:44 pm Satisfied Diner

    Cook’em!

  2. on 03 May 2008 at 5:29 pm Mark

    You buy the same rice vinegar that I do. I’m afraid that makes us vinegar buddies and people will now have to refer to us as such.

    Anyway, I like your haircut, VB!

  3. on 05 May 2008 at 4:15 am name

    You should definitely try to get your hands on frozen fresh udon (they’ll have it at T and T or Lucky – where they’ll also have soba). The frozen ones are just as convenient and come out chewy and wonderful – and they’re extra good in yaki-udon dishes. It’s kind of like the difference between fresh gnocchi and prepared gnocchi.

  4. on 07 May 2008 at 11:37 am Kelly

    Indeed, I will be trying some frozen fresh noodles. I’m totally hooked on this recipe and now it’s time to upgrade it! Thanks for the tips, Tips.