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Udon noodles

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I just saw the Japanese movie called "Udon" - all about Udon in Sanuki region where there are something like 900 udon shops for the 1 million people there, as compared to the 500 McDonalds for teh 12 Million people in Tokyo...

There was a brief how-to in the movie..at the point when the subtitle read, "...you knead to noodle with you feet..." which of course comes on before the action is shown, and I was momentarily taken aback...but not to worry...they wear sock..(just kidding..you'll have to watch the movie :)

ANYWAY, does anyone know how to make udon noodles? For the past weeks I've been flirting with making hand-pulled noodles, which is turning out to be quite a difficult task. While taking a break from Hand-pulled noodles, I'd like to give udon a shot if more detailed instructions can be had from the great Chowhound Home Cooking folks!

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  1. I'd love to know how to cook and serve Udon noodles. They're available at my local asian market, as "fresh" in small, single serving packets, with or without seasoning or instructions. The "with" are sold in larger packages of the smaller packets. I hesitate to buy and use anything with seasoning that doesn't clearly list ingredients.

    AnnieG

    1 Reply
    1. re: violabratsche

      You should be able to buy a bottle of "tsuyu" at your asian store. It's basically a fishy soy sauce. Just ask for it. You can dress the hot or cold noodles in a bit of the sauce, or add some of the sauce to hot water to make a soup broth for the noodles.

      Yummy! Maybe that's what I'll have for dinner tonight. :)

    2. there's a recipe in the latest issue of Saveur magazine, and the author of the recipe was inspired after watching the movie ...just like you (:

      I recently finished it a few weeks ago and loved it. I went to the store yesterday and bought a few packets of fresh udon cause I was craving it so much

      1. I feel somewhat assured since the Japanese markets have rows and rows of Udon that it is probably safe & tasty. I LOVE the Udon soups w/ chicken flavor. I think you need to add mushroom, chicken, bok choy, etc..but they are great for a starter!

        As for as making from scratch, I have no idea. Anthony Bordain was in Shanghai (Not udon country, but noodles!) and he went to a traditional noodle house. the process looks best left to the masters.

        I want to see that movie!

        10 Replies
        1. re: stellamystar

          if you go to crunchyroll.com you can watch the movie for free....although it's on a tiny tiny screen and you have to sign up for an account.

          I like the refridgerated packets of udon with an egg added and some kimchi on the side. In the movie they eat it with just shoyu and an egg added which is really plain. I bet this would be great with the best homemade noodles

          1. re: bitsubeats

            bitsubeats, crunchyroll.com was the place I saw it online. Don't know if you know it, but without paying you can at least clikc on the "larger" so that the screen is indeed larger, just that the quality of the picture isn't clear any more. There are also many other food related series, including Kuitan I, II and the Special (where the food-crazed detective Kuitan goes to Hong Kong); Antique Cake Store, about pastries and other goodies; Bambino, about a young man learning how to survive in the high-pressure kitchen of a high end Italian restaurant in Tokyo.

            In the Udon world, there was something I didn't quite understand: that you can order the noodle, hot in hot, cold in hot...etc?

            i also like the clear broth type of udon in the movie..it's going to be something hard to duplicate, too...seeing how they went around to find out how to cook those little fish to make the broth.

            Stellamystar, it's good that you mentioned Shanghai. apparently the kanzi character for Udon is the Chinese character of Wonton. Udon was introduced into Japan when a Japanese man who visited China in the 9th century returned home to the Sanuki region. So far I've managed to make dumpling skin from scratch, and have been thinking that the same dough could possibly be the start of udon, but I've yet to experiment.

            The Chinese hand-pulled noodles really works the arm/shoulder muscles as you pull the noodles up and out at a controlled, but brisk speed. I guess since the movie mentioned kneading udon with the feet, it might even out the sore muslces - let the arms rest and feet take over.....

            1. re: HLing

              Very interesting! Thanks for the history tid bit.

              1. re: HLing

                I don't watch kaiten , but I do watch docchi no ryouri and cooking master boy (anime about the youngest chinese master chef).....anyways to keep it on topic.

                I forgot about the clear broth, but I'm assuming that is achieved by cooking niboshi or baby sardines. I have a lot of them and keep them in the freezer so that they'll stay fresh. I just take a few of them from the freezer, throw them in some water, and then cook them for a few seconds and take them out. I even like making an egg drop soup with the broth from the little fish.

                1. re: bitsubeats

                  Kaiten? Is that yet another food related series?

                  Are the baby sardines dried? Or do you get them frozen? I couldn't tell from the movie except that they were all sort of floating vertiically in the water in the stock pot..also something about the temperature being important.

                  1. re: HLing

                    they are dried, but I store them in the freezer. You can find them in the refridgerated dried fish section of your asian grocer

                    1. re: bitsubeats

                      Would you please post the recipe, and or the instructions for making your fish broth. Is this to take the place of dashi?

                      After seeing some interesting photos about oya kodon and how to make that, and then I was also looking at udon noodles and the soup photo shots. I am a lover of Asian soups, and the broth you make, certainly sounds very useful for different soups.

                      1. re: chef chicklet

                        I just boil some water, add some kombu and a few niboshi and simmer for a few seconds and then discard them. If you want a stronger broth, add more fish or simmer longer....if not add less.

                        It's the same as making your normal dashi with kombu and katsuoboshi

                        1. re: bitsubeats

                          Thanks, I will search for the fish. I think this is difference between a good and really knockout soup base.

                2. re: HLing

                  With regard to temperatures, you can usually order udon different ways.
                  Hot broth x hot noodles (in the soup, usually softer)
                  Hot broth x cold noodles (served on the side and dipped in, more al dente)
                  Cold broth x cold noodles (tsuyu poured over the noodles)

                  I don't know if you can order hot noodles and cold broth, but i'm sure its possible. I've just never seen it.

              1. re: gabby29

                The recipe calls for udon flour (!) I guess the next question is "what is udon" flour? I suppose something you can buy at an Asian market? Can you make udon flour yourself out of buckwheat and wheat flour perhaps?

                ~TDQ

                1. re: gabby29

                  thanks for the links. While there I also saw this for Udon in a Bag:
                  http://www.saveur.com/our-favorite-fo...

                  I'll probably look for the sanuki ones just to get a sense of the firmer texture, but like TDQ says, "what is udon flour"? Also, it seems, now i have to go back and watch the movie again, that there was an extra step in the making of Fresh Udon that the Saveur recipe skipped? Ah, i just want an excuse to watch the movie again, I think..

                  1. re: HLing

                    There is a recipe for udon in Shizuo Tsuji's Japanese Cooking book, and it uses AP flour. I think you would only use buckwheat if you want soba.

                    1. re: nonaggie

                      Yes, you're right about the buckwheat. I wrote that in haste!

                      ~TDQ

                2. I just found this:
                  http://asiarecipe.com/udon.html

                  Love the instructions and the cartoon man mixing the flour, but it really does sound like a daunting project. The flour is the least of the problem. It sounds right, though, coinciding with the movie's simplified instruction.

                  1. I made this years ago during an udon kick--

                    1 oz dried shiitake
                    3 Tbsp soy sauce
                    2 cups water
                    a large onion, thinly sliced
                    2 red peppers, in long thin strips
                    1 lb fresh asparagus or broccoli, in smallish florets or 2-inch pieces
                    21/2 tsp dark sesame oil
                    3 tsp grated ginger root
                    8 oz udon noodles

                    2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp cold water

                    Combine mushrooms, soy sauce, and water. Bring to boil, lower heat, simmer for 15 mins. Set aside to cool, then drain - saving the stock. Discard the shiitake stems - save caps.
                    Bring a pot of water to a boil.
                    Meanwhile, sautee onion five mins in the sesame oil. Put the shiitake caps, peppers, ginger in the pan and cook 5 to 10 more minutes, until veggies are tender. Stir once in a while, and add shiitake stock if too dry.
                    Steam the asparagus/broccoli, or cook it in the boiling water til just tender, 3 mins. Remove from water, and pop the udon in the boiling water. Cook until al dente, abt 7 mins. Drain and rinse noodles in cold water (to remove extra starch).

                    Add rest of the shiitake stock to the cooked veggies, and the dissolved cornstarch. Simmer until sauce thickens. Stir in asparagus/broccoli and noodles and stir to coat. If you want, play with the sauce, adding a bit more sesame oil, some rice vinegar, a dash or two of hot sauce.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: foxy fairy

                      foxy fairy, thanks for the recipe! I would totally use shitake (or other umami rich mushrooms) for a nice clear vegetarian broth...which I will have to make for my vegetarian sister...soon as I mastered the noodle making!

                    2. I've made udon twice so far with different flour. First time was with half King Arthur Bread Flour, and half King Authur Unbleached All Purpose. The dough was very pliable and I didn't understand why I'd need to step on it to knead. The 2nd time I got some mystery flour from Han Ah Reum (only says Premium Flour, but did have in English a recipe for noodles). I was more conservative with the amount of water, and this time realized that this might have been the time to put all my weight on the noodles for kneading. The dough was quite difficult to work, although it seems to be extra fine and made the noodles very chewy, and easy to remain thick.

                      Both type were very tasty. The first batch was easy to roll the noodles too thin, where as the 2nd batch was a lot more like the udons I've seen in stores as far as thickness, and texture go.

                      If anyone who reads Korean can decode what's written on the package, it would help a lot!

                       
                      9 Replies
                      1. re: HLing

                        It says 'glutinous wheat flour', it's probably a higher protein (harder/stronger) flour; it might be similar to the bread flour, but if you didn't mix it with all-purpose flour the second time, it would definitely be more elastic.

                        I've never had the inspiration to try making udon, but something in a similar vein (hearty chewy homemade noodle) that's relatively easy to make is Korean kalguksu (cut wheat noodles)-- very satisfying in a big bowl of hot soup on a winter day!

                        1. re: another_adam

                          I always make kalguksu with leftover thanksgiving turkey. it's a tradition in my family...however we never make our own noodles. We buy the fresh noodles instead or if we are feeling extra "country" we will make our own sujaebi.

                          for those who don't know what sujaebi is...it's a dumpling soup that's made by dropping "pulled" dough into boiling stock. All you do is mix water, flour, and an egg to "doughy" consistency and just drop it in the water....little pieces at a time

                          1. re: another_adam

                            Another adam, thanks for the translation and info. I have a feeling the recipe in the back of the bag IS for Korean Kalguksu. It doesn't seem to take long. The dough just needs to rest for 20-30 mins, but it seems quite worth it to make since it tasted so much better than store bought, or dried noodles. I don't know what is the taste difference between udon and Kalguksu is supposed to be, but they both can be described as "cut wheat noodles". (Yes, for the 2nd batch I used only the Korean flour, no mixing of all purpose.)

                            Bitsubeats, it's the first I've heard of the word, "sujaebi" but I'm starting to think there ought to be, (if not already somewhere) a list of all the words for this type of dumpling that seems international. There's probably at least one name from each country for this. Is it pulled by hand and then dropped by hand? Or is it like the Austrian Spaetzle that's dropped through little holes? The Chinese have various types, one of which I think is called "Cats ears".

                            1. re: HLing

                              it's pulled by hand and dropped by hand, so they have this really rustic look about them. I believe that it was really popular (not by choice) during the korean war.

                              I don't know what the difference is between kalgooksu and udon noodles. well there is one thing, when you add kalgooksu noodles to soup, it makes the soup really really thick and viscous...almost like adding cornstarch to the broth. Sometimes I can't stand it, so maybe I should rinse my noodles before I add them to the broth like the japanese do with udon?
                              you mentioned that "they can both be described as cut wheat noodles". did you know that kalgooksu in korean means knife cut noodle soup? (:

                              1. re: bitsubeats

                                The kalguksu noodles are usually cooked separate from the broth, just for the reason you described. Usually I cook the noodles take them out and place them in a bowl and ladle the soup over. I hope this helps.

                                1. re: bitsubeats

                                  bitsubeats, thanks for the meaning of "kalgooksu". What about "sujaebi"?

                                  The Taiwanese also has Da Lu Mian, where the broth is thick. I can imagine the convenience of just cooking the noodles in the broth, and skipping the rinse. I can see making that in a dorm room where everything goes into one pot. And why not just use the natural thickening if that's what's being craved..:)
                                  The Korean flour I used did make quite sturdy noodles that can withstand this method of preparation.

                                  1. re: HLing

                                    I don't know what sujaebi means ): My korean isn't that good. I'm sure milgwimper knows that answer

                                    hi milgwimper (: it's sheenagreena from egullet. I didn't know that you were supposed to boil the noodles separately from the broth. I wonder if the directions on refridgerated packets of instant kalgooksu ask to do the same thing?

                                  2. re: bitsubeats

                                    "Knife cut noodles" (like Italian Tagliatelle)... curious similarity in etymology

                              2. re: HLing

                                I've been reminded to post back here about making udon noodles: 4th and 5th attemps were all with the Korean Flour. I have also taken the more difficult road in that I use as little water as possible by using the water-drip technique. Even though it makes the initial dough mixing really really hard, as the dough rests it becomes a little more pliable each time.

                                By the time I roll it out though, it will remain quite sturdy so that even when rolled thin, I still get firm noodles that holds up in soup. It is also very important to rinse the cooked noodles in cold water to get the clearness and the chewiness of the noodles.

                                This dough works well as a ravioli dough, too.

                              3. Years ago, I remember watching a cook making udon by hand. At the time, I was all of eleven years old, didn't really speak Japanese, and was visiting my grandparents in Japan. The cook took a huge pile of flour (there may have been other ingredients, too), mixed in a bunch of water, then started kneading it until it formed a ball that seemed to be about the size of an average beach ball (memory is kind of fuzzy). He formed it into a log about three feet long, and that's when the show started. He grabbed one end of the log in each hand, then swung it over his head and brought it down HARD on the table. He kept slamming this log onto the table, stretching and lengthening the log, until it had doubled in length. He folded it in half, then continued with the "swing-bang" routine...lengthening, folding, swinging, banging. Eventually, he stopped banging, but continued to stretch, swing, and fold. He stopped when the noodle (and it really was just one LONG noodle) was just the right thickness. He fanned the noodle out, and cut it into lengths for cooking. My grandmother said that it takes a LOT of practice to get the dough to just the right consistency so that it doesn't break as you're stretching it.

                                (I don't know if I explained it very well, but imagine you have a single skein of yarn, unraveled it, then looped it over two outstretched arms...you'd still have one strand of yarn until you cut the loops. That's what the noodle/noodles looked like.)

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: ricepad

                                  ricepad, did you see this in Japan? And did that call that Udon? The recipe so far for Udon calls for using a knife to cut it. What you've described sounds like hand-pulled noodles that I was trying to figure out prior to the Udon. I abandoned the hand-pulled noodles quest because when I make the dough with low gluten flour, and added some sort of soda, it was easier to pull, but didn't taste very good....

                                  Scroll to the middle/bottom for a video of a master at work
                                  http://www.scientificpsychic.com/mind...

                                  1. re: HLing

                                    Yes, this was in Japan, and I saw a couple of different cooks do it in different udon shops. It was similar to the method described in your link (I couldn't get the video to work), but there was definitely some swinging and banging.

                                2. I would love to be good at making hand-pulled noodles. I saw it done frequently this summer when I was in China. Delicious and beautiful to watch. Here is a picture of a guy making some in Xian.

                                   
                                  1. This recipe serves aprox. 4 people and is made in the food processor so its easy on the arms and doesn't overwork the gluten...

                                    3 cups high gluten white flour - udonko is preferred but high gluten bread flour will work
                                    1 Tbs. salt
                                    3/4 cup cold water, additional if nec.

                                    In a food processor combine the flour and salt. Add the water and mix just until a ball forms. Add more water if nec. but stop as soon as ball forms. Remove from processor and knead one or two times and form into a ball. Place in bowl covered with plastic wrap and let rest at least on hour.

                                    Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll the dough about 1/6 an inch thick. To achieve the most yield it is helpful to roll the dough into a square or rectangle shape. Roll the dough into a cylinder or log shape and cut with a large chefs knife into 1/6 inch wide slices.

                                    Bring a pot of unsalted water just to the boil and add the noodles. Keep the water at a simmer - not a strong boil and cook 7 - 10 minutes. You want a good chew to this pasta so be sure not to overcook. Drain and then rinse with cold water twice, three times is even better.

                                    Use your fresh udon in the recipe of your choice.

                                    Happy noodling!