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.

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