Monday, February 23, 2009

Starting the Week Off with Udon Noodle Soup

Yesterday, I mentioned that I regularly make udon noodle soup on Mondays and posted a recipe for vegan dashi, the basic stock used for udon noodle soup.

I have seen recipes for udon noodle soup that call for adding 1/4 to 1/3 cup of soy sauce to approximately 6 to 8 cups of dashi. I use less soy sauce, as I prefer my soup to be lighter and more balanced, so that the flavor of the dashi is not overwhelmed by the flavor of either the mirin or the soy sauce.

Udon Noodle Soup
Approximately 2 main course servings

8 (approximately) cups vegan dashi (see recipe posted on 02/22/09)
2-3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese rice wine) (see note below)
2 servings (or bundles) dried udon noodles (thick wheat flour noodles)
2 scallions thinly sliced
2 eggs (optional)
1/3 - 1/2 cup shitake mushroom pieces (optional)
1 cup frozen chopped spinach defrosted in hot tap water (optional)
1/2 sheet of nori (dried seaweed) (optional)
Japanese red chili pepper (optional)

Drop the udon noodles in a pot of boiling water. After approximately six minutes, drain the noodles, rinse them thoroughly with warm water to remove any saltiness, and place them in two soup bowls. In a separate pot, slowly bring the dashi to a roiling bowl and then add the soy sauce (start by adding no more than 2 tablespoons) and the mirin. Ladle the soup over the noodles, garnish with the scallions, and serve.

Variations: As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I normally toss a handful (1/3 - 1/2 cup) of shitake mushroom pieces into the dashi before heating it. I also garnish my udon soup with a small bundle of spinach (thawed in hot tap water and squeezed by hand), along with egg omelet strips, small nori strips (cut with a pair of household scissors), and a couple of dashes of Japanese red chili pepper (Chinese chili oil, used sparingly, can be substituted) for kick.

Note: I have found mirin, udon noodles, nori sheets, dried shitake mushrooms, and Chinese chili oil at Whole Foods grocery store.

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