During my college days, I ate the same three meals everyday, spam and egg fried rice, turkey sandwich and udon soup. Japanese udon noodle soup is incredibly easy to put together and can be topped with various ingredients. Some days, I added some chicken, other days I added fish cakes and a soft boiled egg, and others fresh greens. The absolute perfect meal? Japanese udon noodle soup with shrimp tempura. Even though I ate this soup on a regular basis for 3 years, I still crave it to this day. Here’s my recipe for a classic Japanese udon noodle soup.
- 1 small onion, peeled, left whole
- 3 garlic cloves, whole
- 10 dried anchovies
- 1 3x3inch konbu square
- 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- white stalks of 3 green onion
- 3 cups water
- 1 ounce bonito flakes
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 packages udon noodles
- 2 ounces kamaboko fish cake, sliced
- 4 ounces tofu, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 2 ounces bamboo, thinly sliced
- 1 soft boiled egg, halved
- 2 green onions, chopped
- Combine onion - white stalks of green onions with 3 cups water in a medium pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add bonito flakes to the stock, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. Strain stock, discarding all items except the mushrooms. Return dashi to pot.
- Slice shiitake mushrooms and set aside.
- Season dashi with mirin, soy sauce and salt. Bring to a boil and add noodles. Cook for 1 minute. Add fish cake, tofu, bamboo and mushroooms. Bring to a boil.
- Portion noodles, fish cake, tofu and bamboo into 2 bowls. Ladle soup into each. Top with egg and green onions. Serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Japanese udon noodle soup uses dashi as the base, much like many other Japanese soups and stews. Dashi is a quick broth consisting of konbu or dried seaweed, dried shiitake mushrooms, dried anchovies, and bonito, or dried fish flakes. To make the base vegetarian, you can omit the anchovies. My variation of dashi includes aromatics such as garlic, onion, and the white stems of green onions.
You can use a cheesecloth for the smaller items or use a handy steeper like I did. This makes it easier to strain the stock. If you don’t have either, simply add all of the ingredients into the pot.
Simmer the broth for 10 minutes, add the bonito flakes and remove from heat. Once the bonito flakes have steeped for 10 minutes, remove the items or strain the broth, discarding all ingredients EXCEPT the shiitake mushrooms. Slice the mushrooms and add back to the soup – yes they are edible!
Feel free to add other toppings but I stuck with some traditional options such as fish cake, tofu, soft boiled egg, bamboo, seaweed and green onion. Seafood, chicken, pork, dandelion greens or any fresh vegetables, carrots, bok choy are other choices you can throw into the pot. This Japanese udon noodle soup can be transformed into whatever you desire, and it’s easy to prepare. Just the kind of meal I’m looking for!
Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.