Homemade Udon 饂飩 Noodles

Homemade udon are cheap and easy – but labor intensive. The fun part is, you knead the dough with your feet! Udon is comfort food. It is food of the soul. I found a beautiful video on YouTube about a Japanese farmer/chef who has been making udon for 45 years. I hope you will watch it. It says everything I feel about cooking, food, the earth, and our relationship to each other. Video follows recipe and instructions and recipe. you may even want to watch first – get an idea of the kneading, washing, rolling, cooking.

Udon flour can be found at Asian food stores. If your resources are limited, use a high gluten bread flour such as King Arthur (I am not endorsing the flour or the company. I am just speaking from experience). I have only been making udon off and on for about 30 years but still have much to learn – a simple food that becomes more than the sum of its parts. For me, making udon is a meditation. I empty myself so I can fill myself with the joy of creating. And then, the joy of eating and sharing. Although similar to fettuccine, udon are chewier. Masters of udon making say that about 20 to 30 minutes after the noodles are made, they “die”. So cook your noodles quickly after making and enjoy udon that are alive!

There are tons of recipes for udon noodle soup from simple to complex.  I like to use a basic miso soup recipe and add the noodles to it.  I posted a recipe for miso soup on my blog already(kanzensakura.com/2013/10/11/miso-soup-味噌汁-japanese-soul-food). While the soup is hot, add the noodles and cook until thoroughly thawed and heated.  When putting into bowls, divide the noodles up first, then add the broth.  Garnish with thinly sliced scallions.  A slight (or more to taste) dusting of hot pepper powder adds a great zing.  If you don’t have that, add a shake or two of hot sauce.

You can also make a simple broth with soy sauce, some sake, grated garlic and ginger.  There many different varieties of udon dishes – off hand I can think of about 35 different hot, cold, and regional varieties.  The simplest and most fun is eaten in the heat of summer:  cold noodles on a dish with pieces of ice!  My dipping sauce?  Rice vinegar, bit of sugar, grated carrot and radish, thin scallion, bit of ginger, touch of soy.  As the Japanese say “bari uma!” Tasty, delicious, tastes awesome!

1 tsp salt (I use Kosher salt)
2/3 cup water
2 1/2 cups udonko (Japanese udon flour) OR high gluten bread flour – not whole wheat.
Extra flour for dusting and kneading

1. Dissolve the salt into the water.
2. Mix the water into the flour in a large bowl.  Save a few tablespoons out.  If you need more water, add  it at the end.  Dough will be raggedy at this point.
3. Knead the dough for 10 minutes.
Fun Part!!!
4. Place the dough into a large freezer bag ( I suggest at least a one gallon size), squeeze out
air, and step  on it to flatten it with shoes off. I put a towel underneath to cushion as my
floor is linoleum. Basically, you are using your bare feet (socks are nice)  and body weight to
knead the dough.  Put on some music – I like a nice cha-cha or rhumba for this.  If you have
kids, let them help at this point.  Foot knead the dough to the shape of the bag.
5. Remove the dough from the plastic bag and roll it out.
6. Fold the dough in half and then in half again to make a smaller rectangle.
7. Repeat steps 4-6 a few times.
8. Let the dough rest for a few hours.
9. Roll the dough out until it is about 1/8 inch thick.
10. Fold the dough 2 or three times and slice into thin strips.
11. Cook the noodles in boiling water for about 10 minutes.
12.  Lightly dust dough with flour as needed to keep from getting sticky/sticking.

After I cook the noodles, I will freeze up several bags of them to keep on hand.  Let your noodles thoroughly drain, but not dry out.  Add while frozen to boiling broth.

15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Let's CUT the Crap!
    Jan 23, 2014 @ 21:11:37

    Nothing like home-made from scratch anything. 😀 Yum.


  2. ThePlagueFairy
    Jan 23, 2014 @ 22:56:15

    Thank you, Kanzensakuram it is beautiful!
    I can’t wait to watch my dear David make this. What a treat! I wonder what music he will dance to. Maybe I’ll just put his Steve Vai station on the player and surprise him!
    This will make a wonderful feast and I’m certain the cold version with the ice chips will be made in the summer here. I’m ready to eat that dipping sauce right now. ( Alas, it would be another epic miss with coffee so I will be patient.) Does the boiling water have any salt in it or is it plain?


    • kanzensakura
      Jan 24, 2014 @ 04:21:45

      You can do either way depending on dietary restrictions. However for freezing, I use plain. As to music, for sentimental reasons, I put Hall and Oates’ One on One for the Kneading. Perfect rhythm and speed. I taught my beloved to rhumba to this centuries ago in our garden during a steamy summer afternoon right after he taught me to make udon. Turnabout. That dipping sauce is also good to dunk shrimp, chunks of cooked chicken or pork into and also to use as addressing if you layer the udon and a protein on crisp greens and veggies for a salad meal. For adventure, add a bit of hot pepper flakesand some sake. Mirin and soy for fall and winter variation. It is so good speaking with you! I always enjoy conversing with Mr. But having converse with you is a rare joy. Wish you were close, I’d borrow Lucky and come visit and we’d go for a spin. He likes noodles as well!


      • ThePlagueFairy
        Jan 26, 2014 @ 03:37:37

        Thank you for your kind words, Kanzensakura, you make me feel so very welcome here. I do love to ride and going for a spin would be glorious!! I will try the dipping sauce, thank you. I can think of all kinds of uses for it now that you have explained it further.
        I read about your romantic rhumba afternoon. How delightful it was and what a wonderful picture you painted. Maybe we will just have to go with the rhumba and keep the tradition in honor of The Samurai and his dear Wren. That will make of our preparation a tribute. How very fitting that feels.


        • kanzensakura
          Jan 27, 2014 @ 18:41:54

          You are always welcome! I hope you will feel comfy and at home and at rest here. I am pleased about the rhumba…it is the perfect rhythm for foot kneading udon and for….other things . and I thank you for the tribute. You know as well as I how rare such a love is.


  3. jaklumen
    Jan 25, 2014 @ 00:22:18

    Labor intensive? I’m doomed…


    • kanzensakura
      Jan 25, 2014 @ 03:20:41

      Well, as you could see, the labor is mainly done with your feet. Your Cimmy does the baking. For her, it is nothing close to the hard kneading of bread and forming loaves, punching down loaves, etc. And you have a son who probably might get into playing with his food, so to speak. Not that bad. Give it a go. Read the recipe again ad see. It really isn’t bad. It pays you back.


  4. Clowie
    Jan 29, 2014 @ 07:35:23

    That sounds like fun! Do you think I could knead it with paws?


    • kanzensakura
      Jan 29, 2014 @ 08:40:27

      Yes, I do. Borrow some loose socks from your bipeds or have them drape a towel over so you don’t puncture the plastic bag with your claws. I think you can do just about everything, Clowie!


  5. Grace
    Feb 17, 2015 @ 21:00:54

    I thought you were kidding when you wrote kneading the dough with the feet, ha ~


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