Sweet miso udon

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.

If you make this, let us see! Tag your photo with #loveandlemons on Instagram.


  1. SDRosie on said:

    I’m certainly eating with my eyes right now. Great pics!

  2. Your udon dish looks fantastic! I’ve been really into soba noodles lately, but your dish seems to be closer to traditional Japanese food than anything I’ve made so far. That photo of the mushroom looks totally surreal, and I’m not sure if I could play it cool if someone set a plate with a living creature down in front of me! Jack is brave.

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  4. melissa from allsewnupetsy.blogspot.com on said:

    Oh, My! You had me at Miso. Tofu, Nori, Udon, It’s like you’ve read my taste buds! Yum!

  5. You have a lovely blog and that looks absolutely delicious and exactly the sort of thing my other half would like to eat. x

  6. C on said:

    This sounds wonderful…. I’m an absolute sucker for udon and miso. I would just be careful, though– you really aren’t supposed to boil miso. It can turn grainy and really unappetizing. However, a simple change in the timing of the dish fixes that really easily.

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com on said:

      Hi C – I could alter my wording in the instructions – by “boil” I just mean that you get the temp high enough (a few bubbles form) in order for the sugar to dissolve. You constantly stir it, so it never becomes grainy – it’s silky smooth but the sugar is fully integrated.

  7. blanche mc on said:

    I just made this dish and it was wonderful! Nice flavors…yum! Thanks!

  8. christopher Heath on said:

    Hi all, as a bit of a miso fanatic, i wondered about boiling it? Doesn’t that destroy all the natural properties in it? Apart from that this recipe and most of the others are ‘right up my street’ as we say in England. So jealous of food bloggers and would love the time to do one myself.

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com on said:

      Hi – you bring it to a boil just barely and then turn it down. It’s similar to making a dengaku glaze – it caramelizes a bit and becomes a sweet/savoury sauce.

  9. Paige on said:

    A restaurant based around leeks but no leeks in this particular dish? I’m definitely going to add some leeks when I try it out!

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com on said:

      well there were all kinds of leeks at the restaurant, big and small – most of the time Japanese leeks are closer to the size of scallions (which is why I used them here). I’m sure some sautéed regular leeks would be tasty 🙂

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  11. Nina on said:

    This was incredible! I used homemade chickpea tofu and chickpea miso because cutting back on soy. I cooked the rice sticks in the broth and then used some of the same broth for the sauce. The sauce was really creamy from the starch and yummy with all the lovely flavors – delicious! Thanks!

  12. Nina on said:

    This was incredible! Used homemade chickpea tofu & chickpea miso because cutting back on soy. Cooked rice sticks in broth then used some of same broth for sauce. Seemed to make sauce creamy. Thx!

  13. Shield on said:

    This recipe looks really great !!!!!!!!! Excellent choice, it is perfect to use with red beans and celery seed. My friends will love it.

  14. Carrots4ever on said:

    I love this soup. I thought about adding some fennel but decided not to, this time. I did put a sprinkle of sage in though, and it was so delicious. My friend and I had fun making the dish. Thank you for another delicious recipe.

  15. Kate on said:

    Hi There! Quick question regarding this recipe. When you say: “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).” Do you mean to add a cup or two depending on need? Thank you!

    • Hi Kate, sorry for my slow reply. No, don’t add a cup or two of water, just cook the noodles separately and add the hot noodles to the dish.

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