Tempura udon is a classic Japanese dish of thick wheat noodles (udon) in a savory hot broth garnished with crisp pieces of fried tempura vegetables and shrimp. This recipe uses pre-made, frozen, or leftover tempura for a quick meal.
The udon soup broth can very easily be made from scratch using three staple items for any Japanese-cooking kitchen: dashi broth, soy sauce, and mirin. Note, the dashi broth can either be homemade or quickly prepared using powder bonito fish (katsuo) dashi.
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 two tablespoons of soy sauce and working up to the recommended four tablespoons (or 1/4 cup).
- 8-10 pieces tempura (mixed vegetable and shrimp tempura, per person)
- 1 package udon noodles (frozen Sanuki style)
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon dried bonito (Katsuobushi powder)
- 1/3 cup mirin (sweet cooking sake)
- 1/4 soy sauce (shoyu, or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (granulated, optional)
- Garnish: 1 green onion (sliced)
- Garnish: 3 slices red fish cake (kamaboko, optional)
- Garnish: Japanese 7-spice chili seasoning (shichimi togarashi, optional)
Gather the ingredients.
Prepare the tempura. To crisp leftover or pre-made tempura, simply reheat in a dry non-stick pan (do not coat the pan with any oil) over medium-high heat, turning over frequently until crisp. Set aside.
In a medium pot, bring water to a boil and cook the frozen udon noodles for 1 to 2 minutes until tender.
Drain the noodles well. Separate noodles into two portions and serve in large Japanese-style soup bowls.
In a separate medium pot, combine the water and dried bonito (or use homemade dashi) over medium-high heat.
Add mirin and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Taste the udon soup. Add the sugar (if desired). Adjust the flavor of the broth by adding more soy sauce if desired. Turn off the heat.
Ladle hot broth over the udon noodles and top with the crispy tempura. Garnish with green scallions, fish cake, and Japanese 7-chili spice (if using).
If you’re in a hurry, don’t be ashamed to use a pre-made powder, clearly labeled as "udon soup", which is readily available boxed at all Japanese grocery stores and some Asian supermarkets. It can also be purchased online.
If you're pressed for time and don't want to make tempura for this tempura udon dish from scratch, try these shortcuts:
- Use leftover tempura that you made at home the night before. Simply re-heat leftover tempura in a dry non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Do not coat the pan with oil. Turn the tempura over frequently over a 10 to 12 minute period to crisp the tempura. Add this to the bowl of hot udon noodles and broth.
- Use pre-made tempura that can be purchased in the deli section of most Japanese grocery stores, or from your favorite take-out Japanese restaurant.
- Another alternative is to simply use pre-made frozen shrimp tempura that can quickly be fried prior to serving.