Udon soup

Soup is great for gloomy days like today. Don’t know what it is about soup, but our bodies do tell us when the time has come for a nice bowl of.

My father always has had sentences he’s repeated to death and one of his top five would have to be “a house without soup is not a home”. As I age, I do understand where he comes from. Soup is a simple pleasure with no pretension. It is humble and homey and in a funny sort of way levels us.

Personally I am a fan of udon soup. Hot in winter and cold in the summer. Always with an egg. Raw in Japan, soft in the UK…. Simply delicious.

A typical way to eat this dish in Japan would be topped up or accompanied by a plate of tempura. It could be a simple onion furaido or , if you are lucky, ebi tempura ( prawn tempura). As I cannot eat deep fried food because it would trigger my migraine, I am always happy with alternatives such as this one.

Cooking time: 20 minutes
Quantity: This mix makes 2 large soups

Tips:

1. Do buy Japanese udon noodles if you can. In general, you will find dry or soft . The soft ones come in an air sealed plastic bag and are already cooked, the dry ones will need to be boiled until soft then cooled down in water and drain them for this recipe.

Traditional udon are made in a very particular way, and those who make them work each day from dawn to dusk in order to ensure that their guests can continue to enjoy their labour of love. Udon are made out of flour and water, the paste is worked for a long time at intervals. Then it is rolled thin with enormous pin rolls and finally the long sheet of paste is folded and sliced into stripes. In the south of Japan, Marugame ( twin city of my home town of San Sebastián) is famous for its udon.

2. Japanese soup stock comes in a litre bottle. It is very useful for noodle soups , agedashi tofu or even cold soba and is definitely an ingredient worth keeping in the cupboard. If you don’t cook very often, you can also buy grains of dashi soup which you can hydrate when it comes to cooking.

3. For this kind of oriental soups is worth buying a large bowl of soup. These are very very plain ones but I recently saw some extremely beautiful ones at the Conrad Shop in Marylebone, in case anyone out there is looking for some.

Ingredients:

120 gr of udon
500 ml water
3 table spools of japanese soup stock
2 medium eggs
1/2 a sheet of nori shredded in stripes ( crispy Japanese seaweed)
1 sachet of 5 gr of katsuobushi ( bonito flakes)

Cooking Instructions:

If you are using dry udon, boil them until cooked. I don’t check the time in the packet but taste instead. When they are ready, place them on a shift, remove the hot water, and wash them under cold water.

Never cook the udon in the soup , as they say, period. The outside of the noodle will loose its integrity. Cook separately and do cool them down.

In another pan, heat up the water with the soup. Don’t boil. When it begins to lightly bubble, add the udon and the eggs. Cook until you are happy with the eggs. I like them soft and slightly runny so generally 2 minutes will be enough.

If you like the more cooked, place the eggs first in the soup mix and when you only have two minutes to go, add the udon.

Serve on the two bowls and top up with the bonito flakes and the seaweed.

Photograph by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
Recipe by Toru Saeki and Cristina Lanz-Azcarate

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