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Date Night Udon

Venn Crawford

Japanese Udon is a thick wheat noodle, often served in a rich broth. This recipe is perfect for date nights, as it’s light, delicious, and makes a tasty surprise for someone who’s never had it before.

Don’t be daunted by the long list of ingredients – this recipe is incredibly simple to make.

1 package dried porcini mushrooms (1oz)
Small strip of kombu (optional)
1 cup of shiitake and oyster mushrooms
4 green onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 sweet onion (halved, with skin)
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp soy or vegetable oil
2 packages of ready-to-serve udon noodles
1 cup napa cabbage (sliced into thin strips)
½ cup shredded stir fry beef (optional)
Thin sliced green onions (optional)

To start off your broth, cover your porcini mushrooms with six cups of water. Bring this to a boil, then remove it from the heat and let it sit for ten minutes. This creates a good flavor base for you to work with as you build your broth. While the porcinis are steeping, cut the stems off your shiitakes and oysters and put them in a separate bowl (we’ll use these in the broth).

Remove the mushroom solids from the broth and discard. Add the stems from your fresh mushrooms, as well as the konbu, garlic, onion, and the bottom ends of your green onions. If you want an extra kick to your broth, you can also season it with a bit of cayenne. Bring this to a boil, and then simmer for 20 minutes. Once simmered, remove the remaining solids. Add soy sauce and mirin, and season with salt if desired. Set aside.

Slice your mushrooms and the rest of your green onions and set them aside. Finely slice the cabbage and set it in a separate bowl. Heat oil in a skillet until it smokes, and lightly brown the mushrooms. Once tender, set them aside, and heat more oil. Add your cabbage, stir-frying it until browned in spots. This gives it a bit of smokiness.

Heat oil until smoking, and add shredded stirfry meat, seasoning with salt and pepper. Resist the urge to stir the meat too much – let it cook on one side first (no matter how crumpled up) until that side starts getting browned and crisped, and then turn it over to cook the other side. This will keep the meat juicier. If you’d like more spice, season it with cayenne as well.

Cook your udon according to the instructions on the package, and set aside.

You can also add egg to this dish instead of (or in addition to) the meat. The best way to do this is to cook the egg slightly less than overhard, so that the yolk is still somewhat soft, but doesn’t blend into the broth when you cut into it. Try to cook it so that one of the sides is slightly charred in spots, which adds a crispier texture to it.

To serve, add udon to bowls and spoon broth over top until the noodles are just covered, and then top with cabbage, mushrooms, green onions, and beef. This udon is also delicious when topped with fried tofu, tempura shrimp, and enoki.

Craving something different? Find more recipes here.

by Venn Crawford

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