New Flash. March is National Noodle Month!!!! Did you know that? Do you need an excuse to eat more noodles? I don’t.
I was all excited to write this awesome blog on Udon Noodles and then I got corrected that “technically” Udon Noodles aren’t noodles. This is where the food world is confusing to me. Noodle is in the name….so it is a noodle…right?
Nope. I guess in the U.S., a noodle must have a certain percentage of egg in it to be considered a noodle….and udon is not made with eggs…it is just flour, salt and water.
But according to the UN (University of Noodles…Not United Nations) udon is an Asian specialty (please note…I’m not saying the origin of udon because apparently that is another debate), we CAN call it a noodle since it isn’t an American product…very confusing.
I wanted to write about Udon noodles because I really love them. They are kind of like a super chubby wheat spaghetti with a little chew to them. They really don’t have a lot of flavor to them so they are the perfect venue to showcase a good soup broth or sauce. (Udon is the little black dress of the noodle world…you can still be a little chunky and look good.)
The best part about udon is that once you find a base you love, you are only limited by your imagination. Do you want some chicken in your dish? Add Chicken! How about bok choy? Add it!! How about a few sesame seeds? Shake those babies on there!!!
My favorite way to prepare udon is to wok fry them. I just sauté up some meat, at least 2-3 veggies and a pack of udon. (Fresh is best…frozen are good…dried are not my favorite.) My problem (besides spending hours trying to think of a defense of udon as a noodle) is that I had never found a base sauce that could accessorize the noodle in the way I thought was suitable….until the other day.
One of my favorite places to get inspired by recipes is the James Beard Foundation website. (Their recipes are from JBF recognized chefs.) It is a great organization that really knows how to educate and foster the food community. (And that is a really vague summary for an incredible group of people!) The JBF website is an available resource for all food “enthusiasts” and I would highly recommend giving it a look when you have a moment…not now…finish reading my blog.
Recently they published a recipe for Wok Charred Udon Noodles with Chicken and Bok Choy. The entire recipe was enticing but it was the recipe for the udon sauce that made me rush into the kitchen. (Luckily, I always have the makings for a good stir-fry in my house…I just never had the talent to build a sauce like a James Beard award winning chef.)
I made the sauce EXACTLY like the recipe and set it aside. I browned about a pound ground pork in my cast iron pan and set it aside. I then stir fried some onions, zucchini and peppers in the same pan. (Simple right.) I added in my cooked udon, tossed them with the veggies and added the pork back in. And then I didn’t touch the pan for a minute or two. I swirled in a couple of tablespoons of the sauce and let it set again for minute or two. (My pan was on medium high for the record.) I got a little char on the noodles and veggies, sprinkled on some sesame seeds…a little grated fresh horseradish…a few green onions…and added a side of pickled radish and tasted it. YUUUUUM!!!
I was a “little” unconventional and served it ON a kale salad tossed with lemon just to make it a “greener” meal. (I like my dinners to have a lot of green in them…if I had this for lunch…I’d skip the salad part.)
I did not use up all my sauce and that is okay. “They” say it is good in the fridge stored in an airtight container. (Which means you can make noodles twice in one week!!!)
The best part of the recipe is that you don’t have to traipse all over town to get your ingredients. The only one that might be a challenge is the Shaoxing cooking wine but they suggested either dry sherry or dry white wine as a substitute. (I have Shaoxing in my house so score one for my pantry!!!)
Normally, I would just direct you to their website for the recipe but just to make sure it NEVER gets lost in this vast world of internet recipes….I added the sauce recipe below.
So, whether you celebrate National Noodle Month or not….give udon a try! (I will make a udon soup in the near future and let you know how it goes…maybe I can make it during National Soup Month…err..wait…that was January…I can’t keep up on those things!)
Udon Sauce…this is just the sauce recipe….for the rest of the instructions please go to the JBF Website
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/3 cup oyster sauce
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing cooking wine (or substitute dry sherry or dry white wine)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sambal oelek
- 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
- Make the udon sauce: in a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water until smooth to make a slurry.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, Shaoxing wine, sambal oelek, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and fish sauce.
- Whisk together and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the cornstarch slurry and whisk continuously for 20 seconds, or until the sauce thickens.
- Remove from the heat.
- The udon sauce can be made up to a week in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using. (It will be thick and gelatinous.)