Tempura Udon

Tempura Udon

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
4556 Calories
163g Fat
498g Carbs
276g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 4556
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 163g 209%
Saturated Fat 20g 99%
Cholesterol 2134mg 711%
Sodium 13297mg 578%
Total Carbohydrate 498g 181%
Dietary Fiber 53g 189%
Total Sugars 78g
Protein 276g
Vitamin C 586mg 2,929%
Calcium 1292mg 99%
Iron 24mg 135%
Potassium 7361mg 157%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

I've you've ever slurped on a bowl of hot udon noodles, then you know how deliciously chewy and thick these noodles are. Floating in a rich umami broth, udon noodles are a comforting and classic Japanese meal that can be dressed with all sorts of additional ingredients. For this recipe, the thick wheat noodles and broth are garnished with crisp pieces of fried tempura vegetables and shrimp. But you can choose to use either alone, as the variations on the dish are endless and each person has a favorite way of eating and seasoning these fun noodles.

For our recipe you can use pre-made, frozen, or leftover tempura. Easily available in Asian markets and online retailers, the udon noodles come pre-cooked, frozen, or dry, so it's up to you to choose the most convenient form in which you want to buy them. Or, you can make them at home, which is also a fun weekend project. The udon broth is easily made from scratch by using three staple items in any Japanese kitchen: soy sauce, mirin, and dashi broth. Dashi is the backbone of hundreds of Japanese dishes that you can either make from scratch—which might take a while—or buy pre-made. Many great brands of dried dashi are available and they're the best shortcut to a flavorful broth. Dashi is not a standardized recipe—its rich flavors and variations come from using different mushrooms, kombu, fish, and seasonings.

Depending on the region of Japan, the broth for udon noodle soup varies from dark brown to light brown with varying degrees of saltiness. For this reason, the recipe below can be adjusted by changing the amount of soy sauce that is used. If you are used to a lighter flavor, we recommend starting with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and working up to the recommended 4 tablespoons. If you’re in a hurry, use a pre-made "udon soup," which is readily available in all Japanese grocery stores and some Asian supermarkets.

Ingredients

  • 16 to 20 pieces tempura, vegetable and/or shrimp tempura

  • 1 package udon noodles, frozen Sanuki style

  • 4 cups water

  • 1 tablespoon dried bonito, Katsuobushi powder

  • 1/3 cup mirin

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce, or to taste

  • Optional: 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • Optional: 1 green onion, sliced

  • Optional: 6 slices fish cake, kamaboko

  • Optional: Shichimi togarashi seasoning, or chili powder flakes; to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Tempura Udon ingredients

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  2. Prepare the tempura. To reheat leftover or pre-made tempura, simply place it in a dry nonstick pan without any oil over medium-high heat, turning over frequently until crisp. Set aside.

    tempura covered shrimp and vegetables in a pan

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  3. In a medium pot, bring sufficient water to a boil and cook the frozen udon noodles for 1 to 2 minutes until tender.

    Udon cooking in a pot

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  4. Drain the noodles well and divide them into 2 bowls.

    udon noodles in bowls

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  5. In a separate medium pot, combine the water and dried bonito over medium-high heat. Alternatively, use your homemade dashi.

    water and dried bonito in a pot

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  6. Add mirin and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Taste the udon soup. Add the sugar if desired, and adjust the flavor of the broth by adding more soy sauce, if desired. Turn off the heat.

    mirin and soy sauce added to the pot

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  7. Ladle the hot broth over the udon noodles and top with the crispy tempura. Garnish with the fish cake slices, and green onion and chile seasoning, if using.

    Tempura Udon served in a bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  8. Enjoy!

What Are Japanese Fish Cakes?

Japanese fish cakes are, simply put, processed white fish of various types, that are then mixed with agglutinants and preservatives to make a homogenous paste that is then cooked and usually packed in cylindrical form. Sold in small loaves, the kamaboko come in many textures, but most have a sweet fishy flavor that is mild and enjoyable. A staple in Japanese cuisine, these cakes are used in many preparations, added to soups, grilled, or eaten directly from the package, as they don't need further cooking and come ready to eat. You'll find red and white fish cakes—some have spiral designs inside like narutomaki, but all are a delicious addition to udon soups. Fish cakes are easy to find at Asian markets and online retailers.

Tempura Options

If you're pressed for time and don't want to make tempura, use leftover tempura, pre-made tempura that can be purchased in the deli section of most Japanese grocery stores, or buy some from your favorite take-out Japanese restaurant. Alternatively, use pre-made frozen shrimp tempura that can quickly be fried prior to serving.