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.
- 3-4 oz dried udon or rice noodles
- 1 teaspoon butter or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 4 oz mushrooms of your choice, chopped
- 3-4 scallions, chopped, whites and greens separated
- 7 oz firm tofu, chopped into small cubes
- ¾ cup water or broth, as needed
- ½ sheet nori, cut into thin slices (kitchen scissors work best)
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
- Sea salt
- 2 tablespoons white miso paste
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook udon according to package directions.
- Make the miso sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the miso paste, sugar, and mirin. Bring to a gentle boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 2-3 minutes, whisking continuously. Set aside.
- In a medium pot or saucepan, heat the butter until melted. Add the garlic, ginger, mushrooms, scallion whites, and a pinch of salt and sauté until the mushrooms are cooked down.
- Add the tofu and cook another couple of minutes.
- Add the 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 sauce 2 tablespoons at a time and taste after each addition. You might not use all of it depending on your preference.
- 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.