|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 66g||85%|
|Saturated Fat 8g||40%|
|Total Carbohydrate 249g||90%|
|Dietary Fiber 23g||82%|
|Total Sugars 43g|
|Vitamin C 236mg||1,179%|
|*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.|
If 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 premade, frozen, or leftover tempura. Easily available in Asian markets and online retailers, the udon noodles come precooked, 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 or buy premade. 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 less soy sauce and adding more to taste. If you’re in a hurry, use a premade "udon soup," which is readily available in all Japanese grocery stores and some Asian supermarkets.
"This Tempura Udon was extremely delicious and satisfying. There’s a lot of fantastic variety in this single bowl to keep the diner interested, including crispy tempura veggies and shrimp, chewy-springy udon noodles, fish cakes, and an intensely flavored broth. A sprinkle of shichimi togarashi at the end gives it the right amount of spicy kick." —Diana Andrews
16 to 20 pieces store-bought or homemade vegetable and/or shrimp tempura
4 (8-ounce) servings frozen udon noodles, preferably Sanuki style
8 cups water
2 tablespoons dried bonito (katsuobushi) powder or dashi powder
2/3 cup mirin
1/4 to 1/2 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons granulated sugar, optional
8 slices fish cake (kamaboko), optional
2 green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish
Shichimi togarashi seasoning, or chile flakes, to taste, optional
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
Prepare the tempura. To reheat leftover or premade tempura, simply place it in a dry nonstick pan without any oil over medium-high heat, turning over frequently until crisp. Set aside.
In a large pot, bring sufficient water to a boil and cook the frozen udon noodles for 1 to 2 minutes until just tender. Rinse the udon in cold water to stop cooking.
Divide the udon between 4 bowls.
In a separate large pot, combine the 8 cups of water and dried bonito powder over medium-high heat. Alternatively, use homemade dashi.
Add mirin and soy sauce and bring to a rolling boil. Taste the udon soup. Add the sugar if desired, and adjust the flavor of the broth by adding more soy sauce, if desired.
Ladle the hot broth over the udon noodles in the bowls and top with the crispy tempura. Garnish with the fish cake slices, and green onions and shichimi togarashi, if using. Serve immediately.
If you're pressed for time and don't want to make tempura, use leftover tempura, or premade tempura, which can be purchased in the deli section of most Japanese grocery stores, or buy some from your favorite take-out Japanese restaurant. Alternatively, use premade frozen shrimp tempura, which can quickly be fried prior to serving.
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. Japanese fish cakes are easy to find at Asian markets and online retailers.