Jack has been requesting udon ever since we got back from Japan (over a year ago), so finally, tonight, udon he got. This is not traditional udon – and that’s my disclaimer. I would love to be able to say that we went to Japan and came home able to share something remotely authentic. The truth is that we pointed to things on menus and just hoped that no one would put something in front of me that was still moving. (Jack on the other hand is ok with food that still moves).
One day we’ll hopefully become more diligent ingredient-notating travelers. Until then, next time we’re at game night and “no tentacles or squiggly legs” comes up on a charades card, we’ve got that one in the bag.
This dish was inspired by a foggy distant memory of a dish we ate on a dark, cold, rainy night in Tokyo. We were at this restaurant where their entire menu was based around Japanese leeks (neat concept right?). They served an udon dish that I remember to be one of my favorites of the trip – it was sweet and salty, and a light glistening golden brown. And that’s about all I can remember about it except for how quickly I polished it off.
I should also mention that I added a few extras that were not part of the memory… tofu to make it a full meal with protein, these neat hon shimeji mushrooms that popped up at my store, and some chopped nori because I just like it.
serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a side
3-4 oz. dried udon noodles (1/3 to 1/2 package). If gluten free, use rice noodles.
1/2 package (about 7 oz.) firm tofu, chopped into small cubes
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
3/4 cup water or broth (as needed)
4 oz mushrooms of your choice, chopped (I used these hon shimejis but they sure were $39/lb)
1/2 sheet of nori, cut into thin slices (kitchen scissors work best)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
3-4 scallions, chopped, whites and greens
1 teaspoon butter (or earth balance for vegan)
salt, to taste
sweet miso mixture:
2 tablespoons white miso paste
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons mirin
Prep your chopped items and set aside.
Fill a pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook udon according to package directions.
In a small saucepan, combine miso paste, sugar and mirin. Bring to a gentle boil, turn heat down and simmer for 2-3 minutes whisking continuously. The mixture should bubble a bit but don’t let it burn. Set aside.
In a medium pot or saucepan, heat butter until melted. Add garlic, ginger, mushrooms, scallion whites and a pinch of salt and saute until mushrooms are cooked down.
Add tofu and cook another couple of minutes.
Add cooked noodles (if you can time this well, add them right from the boiling water so the excess water will help to create the sauce).
Add the sweet miso mixture, 2 tablespoons at a time and taste. You might not use all of it depending on how light or sweet/rich you prefer your meal.
If necessary, add water or broth to thin the sauce to your desired consistency.
Turn heat off and stir in half the scallion greens, nori, and sesame seeds. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more sauce if necessary.
Portion into bowls and top with the remaining scallion greens, nori and sesame seeds.