Are you interested in dipping your toe into the wonderful world of udon? Traditional Japanese udon are thick noodles made from wheat that can be served in a variety of ways. Udon noodles are a versatile food because of their neutral flavor and smooth, round texture. Depending on your preference, you may wish to enjoy these tasty noodles in stir fries or soups, hot or cold, with a curry sauce or even as an appetizer.
Here’s everything you need to know about this Japanese cuisine and some delicious recipes with udon noodles to get your taste buds tingling.
Where Did Udon Noodles Originate?
Although udon is considered a Japanese cuisine, reports show udon actually originated in China. It is thought that when udon was initially brought to Japan, it more closely resembled a dumpling. However, in the 1300s trends saw udon cut into longer strands which are similar to what we recognize udon today.
The preparation of udon and recommended serving suggestions vary throughout Japan, as each area has its own regional variety. Udon is particularly popular in the South of Japan, although it is enjoyed all over the country and, more recently, across the world.
Udon Vs. Soba Noodles
These popular types of noodles differ in many ways in their ingredients, preparation, and taste.
Udon noodles are pale white, thick and chewy, whereas soba are yellower or browner in colour and much thinner. Soba noodles are made with buckwheat giving soba noodles a more distinctive flavor than udon which are comparatively mild in taste.
How To Eat Udon Noodles
As Udon is served in several different ways, the etiquette in eating them will also differ depending on the dish. Generally, it is considered polite to slurp your noodles into your mouth using chopsticks. Contrary to western culture, making a lot of noise while eating is considerate to your guests and hosts and shows your appreciation for the meal. It’s also acceptable to bring the bowl towards your mouth, rather than bending towards the bowl on the table as we would in the US and Europe.
You can enjoy udon noodles in several ways, including:
- Soup and broth. Such as miso soup or in kakejiru. This is the most common way to serve udon.
- Saucy noodle dishes. Such as curry udon or with a peanut sesame sauce.
- Yaki udon noodles. A simple stir fry with soy sauce and sesame oil. Vegetables are added during cooking, making this a popular vegan option. However, you can also serve yaki udon with meat.
- Cold noodle salads.
- Alongside a dipping sauce for an appetizer or side dish.
Udon Noodle Recipes
- Traditional 3-Ingredient Udon Noodles
Although you certainly won’t struggle to find udon in your local supermarket, you may wish to have a go at making your own from scratch. If you have ever wondered how to make udon noodles, this recipe provides a detailed 8 step guide to help you achieve delicious udon noodles at home in just 30 minutes.
All you will need is water, salt, and flour, and you can have your homemade udon ready to complete any other recipe on this list. This is also a vegetarian, egg, and dairy-free udon noodle recipe, so it is suitable for most dietary needs, other than people avoiding gluten.
- Udon Noodles Soup
Imagine sitting outside on a warm spring evening slurping on this refreshing vegetable udon noodle soup. Although you may think this is an over-simplistic recipe for noodle soup (‘’mmm soup.. I mean noodle soup… I mean soup!’’ – comment below if you got this Friends TV show reference), this udon noodle soup recipe is a firm crowd-pleaser. The broth is light yet full of flavor, the veggies are soft, and the noodles are thick and filling.
- 5 Minute Spicy Udon Noodle Stir Fry
This recipe is a must-try for anyone who is a fan of spicy food yet doesn’t want to spend ages preparing a deal in the kitchen. This recipe makes a fantastic mid-week meal when you get home from a long day at work and want to prepare your dinner in just a few minutes.
Even takeout seems less appealing when you can have this recipe for udon noodles stir fry with tofu in less time than it would take even to decide what to order for delivery.
If you have a good spice tolerance, we can bet you will be adding this dish to your meal plan for weeks to come. Even a beginner in the kitchen can prepare this recipe with the follow along YouTube video. If you aren’t able to handle much chili, you can adjust the level of gochujang (Korean chili paste) to your liking.
- Cold Noodle Salad
Calling all peanut butter fanatics! This cold noodle salad is an irresistible meal that balances the hearty, chewy udon with crunchy vegetables and a creamy peanut butter and ginger sauce.
As you only need to cook the noodles and chop the vegetables, this recipe couldn’t be more straightforward. Serve with fresh cilantro and sesame seeds for a great lunchtime option. In addition, you can keep this dish fresh for up to 3 days when refrigerated. Thus, making it an excellent choice for a packed lunch that you can prep the night before.
- Curry Udon
Feed your soul with this spicy Curry Udon with traditional dashi stock and Japanese curry paste. Curry Udon gained popularity in the 20th century as the people of Tokyo saw an influx in westernized restaurants, and chefs decided to create a mashup udon noodle soup and curry to entice diners into their establishments.
Curry Udon is a popular meal to use up leftover Japanese curry, but don’t take our word for it. Just look at how delicious and creamy this curry sauce is. Paired with the caramelized vegetables for a sweet hint and the sour cream for a bit of body, this chicken udon noodles recipe is one of our top picks for anyone new to Japanese cuisine.