This is a recipe that I’ve had around for a few weeks and I just haven’t had the chance to post yet. As you’ve probably noticed over the last few months, I’ve been exploring and playing around with Asian foods. One of the problems with making Asian dishes is the fact that they often require special ingredients that one can’t find in many local supermarkets. The up side is that, all across this country, Asian communities have been on the rise and you can probably find an Asian market relatively close by. The other up side is that many of these products, are extremely cheap, especially compared to similar items in the regular grocery stores. I urge everyone to spend some time exploring their local Asian market and discovering, not only great food items, but great prices also.
Dashi is one of the workhorses of Japanese cuisine. It is the basis of most every soup and noodle dish and often shows up in many other places also. While there are various kinds of dashi I don’t tend to bother with them and usually just make the standard version using Kombu (a seaweed) and bonito flakes. Bonito is a species of tuna. Yes I know, it sounds rather fishy, but believe me, the resulting broth is not overly fishy and a wonderful subtle flavor.
4 quarts water
1 6×6 piece kombu, wiped clean (to remove any of the white residual salt)
1/2 oz. bonito flakes (about 2 cups)
Place kombu and water in a medium sized pot and allow to sit for 1-2 hours. Heat over medium heat just until starting to simmer (small bubbles start to form). Remove the kombu and bring to a roiling boil. Boil for 1 minute then add the bonito flakes and remove from heat. Allow bonito to steep for 15 minutes or until it all sinks to the bottom. Strain and use as necessary or refrigerate for up to 4 days.
I love Japanese udon noodles. They are thick and chewy, quite unlike most Italian pastas and they work perfectly with the thin, dashi based broths of Japan. This recipe really makes udon noodles the star, as they should be, with a supporting cast that includes the dashi broth, green onions and kamaboko. You may not be familiar with kamaboko, but I’m sure you are familiar with imitation crab meat or imitation lobster meat. Both are made from surimi, a fish paste create to resemble the flesh of shellfish. Kamaboko is often formed into half circle logs and can often be dyed in creative ways, though here, in the US, it is most often found with a pink outside and white interior. If you can’t find kamaboko the you can certainly substitute any of the imitation crab meats found in most grocery stores, though it will be much cheaper, ounce for ounce, if you can find kamaboko at your local Asian market.
In Japan this udon dish is often referred to as Kake Udon or Su Udon. Either way, it makes a light, healthy, and delicious meal. Enjoy
2 quarts Dashi (see recipe above)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. mirin (sweet rice cooking wine)
1 pound udon noodles
1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
8 slices, kamaboko, thinly sliced (or substitute surimi or imitation crab meat)
Bring 3-4 quarts of salted water to a boil and cook the udon as directed. While the udon is cooking gently reheat the dashi, adding the soy sauce and mirin. When the noodles are done, strain and very briefly rinse in hot running water. Divide the noodles between 4 large soup or noodle bowls and add 2 slices of the kamaboko to each bowl. Pour dashi over the noodles, garnish with the green onions and serve.