Thursday, April 16, 2009

Yakiudon (Udon served with stir-fried pork, kim chee, mushrooms, and chives)

I'm working on a number of different writing projects all at once, but until any of them are finished and ready to share, this will have to suffice.

Here's another simple Japanese dish that uses udon (Japanese wheat flour noodles). While many non-Japanese people are familiar with udon, they've usually only encountered it as a noodle soup with tempura-fried shrimp or vegetable fritters. But udon is also excellent when made into a stir fry. There are many variations of yakiudon, and in Japan one happily finds that, like many Japanese dishes, this can differ greatly by region.

For a little Korean flair we added kim chee to the recipe, which I find contributes quite a bit of flavor, though its pungency, perhaps through cooking, is almost negligible. We usually eat this for lunch, though on this occasion we had it for dinner. Also, if you're going to use udon, you may want to consider freezing it first. Surprisingly, frozen udon gives you more suppleness than udon that has been kept for a while on a store shelf or hidden away in a cabinet.

This recipe, by the way, serves two people.

2 100 g (3.5 oz) packages of udon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 lb pork loin (sukiyaki pork works best), sliced thin
1 bunch chives
3 shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup kim chee
1 teaspoon dashi
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 package bonito flakes

1. Boil water.
2. Add udon (one 100 g of udon is enough for one person) and boil according to directions on package. Boiling times differ according to the udon brand. Ours suggested 10 minutes.
3. While draining noodles, rinse with cold water. When finished, your noodles should be semitransparent and slightly firmer than spaghetti is after boiling.
4. Heat vegetable oil in wok or large pan.
5. Add pork loin and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Add chives, mushrooms, and any other vegetable you have available, such as bean sprouts, cabbage, chopped carrots, green peppers, etc. You can even thrown in a handful of medium-sized shrimp. Cook for 2 minutes.
7. Add kim chee and cook for 3 minutes.

All cooked and ready to serve with udon

8. Stir in dashi (we use the dry, pellet form), soy sauce, and mirin. Cook until liquid mostly evaporates.
9. Serve in bowls. Top with half a package of bonito flakes and, if you have it, some Japanese pickled ginger (gari – the pink kind you eat with sushi).

Swimming in bonito flakes, just as we like it

P.S. I just received an order of Euell Gibbons books about foraging for and preparing wild foods. If I'm lucky, I'll do a little write-up of those at some point, too -- hopefully after exploring some of the wild foods available to me in Hawaii. If anyone has this sort of experience, in Hawaii or elsewhere, I'd love to hear about it.

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  1. MMMMM...Sapuche, that looks as a perfect dinner! I love it!
    I do love Udon noddles straight from the pack. We have a great Asian/ Indian food shop, the Kam Yuen in Brussels city. That is where I buy foods that you have me introduced to!! So, I want to try this yummie dish!!

  2. I love udon... and this recipe sounds so delicious!!

  3. Delicious udon noodles! Sounds excellent with pork and bonito flakes (we just recently tried those and really loved them!)

  4. This looks VERY good! I love how you added a little bit of Korean into the mix. I love big fat udon noodles, and you are right, I am one of those people who thought that they could only be used in soups.

  5. All my favourite ingredients is in this dish. Lovely! =D

    In Malaysia, they sometimes do a stir-fried udon with black pepper sauce & beef slices. But I only find that in Hong Kong Char Chan Tengs. >)

  6. This udon look so delicious. All my family love udon, we ate this a lot during winter. Can't wait for you article on that wild food.

  7. I'm enjoying reading your blog and learning about Japanese cuisine. I must try some of these recipes soon!

  8. Oh goody! We are having pork for dinner tonight. I'll put a bit aside for this as lunch tomorrow. I'll need to go out this afternoon for the kimchi, but I have everything else (bonito flakes even!)

    So this is where my Japanese cooking begins. I may even make a blog entry highlighting my efforts. We'll see.

    Did I ever tell you I made kimchi once? It's very easy! I even made a video...

  9. This sounds spicy! All those bonito flakes in there...whooo!

  10. You're getting creative with adding kim chee to the Japanese noodles! Whenever I try to mix Asian ingredients just by guessing, they never work well for me. In fact, whatever I make becomes inedible! I guess I do not have a good sense of what goes with what in Asian cuisine. When I follow a recipe though, the dish tastes really good. Looking forward to your other writing projects.

  11. Maybe its because its nearly dinner time and we're getting ready to head out for sushi but this dish looks incredible. I love anything with udon and stir fried pork has to be right up there. I think I have all the ingredients - barring anything unforeseen, you've helped me determine what we're doing for dinner tomorrow - thanks!!

  12. Kim chee is one of those foods that -once let out of the universe's mouth- I cannot cease searching for until it is on my plate. So, this is my weekend..searching for the best kim chee and trying to leave enough in the jar to make this dish. :)

  13. I have to admit, I love my udon in soups (I've been using it in laksa). I usually purchase 'pre-cooked' udon noodles in the refrigerated section but I will pick up the dried ones next time, as well as kimchi, which I've decided to try again after immature tastebuds rejected it many years ago! But I also need to try bonito flakes . . . my grocery list is getting long.

    BTW, I found Trung Nguyen coffee! We need to go through some of our older stash first but I'll let you know when we have our first cuppa!

  14. Sophie: Yes, it’s a great dinner…or lunch! I’m glad to hear that you have such a good Asian/Indian shop where you can buy ingredients. I wish we could get Indian ingredients so easily in Hawaii, but they’re really hard to come by! If you make this sometime, let me know how it turns out!

    Selba: Can you get kimchi in Indonesia? If so, give it a try! Or, better yet, play around with the ingredients some and see what you can come up with. It’s a really versatile dish.

    5 Star Foodie: Yes, the pork and bonito flakes are nice in this dish. Glad to hear you’re a fan of bonito flakes!

    Sugarlens: For such a simple dish – it only has a handful of ingredients – it offers excellent flavor, plus the udon is just chewy enough to be texturally interesting! The kimchi definitely works great here. I hope you give it a try sometime!

    Bangsar-bAbE: Yes, the ingredients work nicely together. Oh, and the stir-fried version with black pepper sauce and beef slices at Char Chan Teng sounds shiok! Did I use that word right? :)

    Elra: Yes, udon is a great wintertime food! Your family must have had some delicious meals together. Thanks for your comment!

    Desmone007: Thanks for your kind words! Whenever you end up trying some of these recipes, let me know how they turn out. I’m sure you’ll like them!

    Greg: Ah, you’re lucky to have most everything you need to make this dish. I’m eager to check out your blog entry on this, too, to see if you made any interesting culinary discoveries along the way. And no, I didn't know you made kimchi before. I’ll definitely have to check out that video when I get more time. I’m expecting to hear that it gave your home a certain, shall we say, fragrance afterward? :)

    Duo Dishes: Surprisingly, it’s not all that spicy! I guess it could be if you got a suped-up version of kimchi, but ours was probably a bit on the mild side. And yeah, those bonito flakes are tasty and fun.

    Mediterranean Turkish Cook: Haha! I’m not sure how creative we were being. We’ve had this so many times, and we always have kim chee in our fridge, that it seems normal just to whip up this particular version of yakiudon. But, like you, I often have trouble if I attempt to combine ingredients from one corner of the Asian culinary landscape to another. And, again like you, that’s why I do most of my cooking from cookbooks. If something turns out terribly, I can just blame my cookbook. :)

    Oysterculture: Yakiudon goes well with sushi, at least to me, so I hope you went to a place where you could get both. Then again, it’s always nice to reserve enough space in your stomach to eat as much sushi as possible! Good luck making this dish tomorrow night. Let me know how it turns out!

    Kim: I agree with you about the addicting quality of kim chee. Once I developed a taste for it, I was always finding ways to eat it. In Vietnam, it helped that I was living (for a while, anyway) in a district that many people called “Little Korea.” Now that I’m in Hawaii, I always have a jar of it sitting in my fridge. Good luck finding some this weekend…and not going through it all before trying this recipe!

    Tangled Noodle: I love udon in soups, too – it was my introduction to udon, in fact. I bet it’s wonderful in laksa, as it has an amazing capacity to absorb flavors. I hope you have a pleasanter experience with kimchi this time around – it took me a few tries to understand its merits, which are many. And I’m really glad you were able to locate Trung Nguyen! Did you find it at a Vietnamese grocery? I’m happy, too, because two friends who’ll be visiting Hawaii next week are bringing us more “civet” coffee. Whoo-hoo! I still need to hunt down some Café de Lipa, though. I just haven’t had time lately to explore for it.

  15. Hi Sapuche, that looks delicious, and since you are cooking some asian food, have you tried Laksa? I'm in an eternal search for a good recipe.
    I use to eat this delicious soup in Sydney and couldn't find a similar one over here. The closest I got was at Cafe Asean at Greenwich Avenue (West Village). it's yummy but not as good as I use to have in Australia.

  16. can I come over for dinner? this would so hit the spot right now.

  17. Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comments!

  18. Well, this will do just fine. :) It sounds so great. I haven't cooked with udon noodles before. I always pass them up b/c I'm not sure how to prepare them or what to add. You've given me a great idea. Thanks!

  19. Anna: I made laksa at home recently using a cookbook, but it didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. Also, it wasn’t an economical dish because I used a ton of expensive seafood! Tangled Noodle’s blog has what looks like a great recipe for laksa here: And Rasa Malaysia’s blog has a laksa recipe here: Oh, and when I lived in NYC I used to eat at Café Asean all the time! Funny; it’s a small world, as they say. I agree that Café Asean’s good, but there are clearly better ones out there.

    Gastroanthropologist: Heh! Sure, if you’re in Hawaii!

    Desmone008: You’re most welcome. And I thank you for the same!

    Lori: Glad to hear this recipe has given you some ideas. I hope you give it a try and that it works out to your liking!

    Bangsar-bAbE: Ha! Excellent. Thanks to you, I’ve successfully expanded my vocabulary by one!

  20. I have a package of troccoli pasta in the fridge that are thick like udon....I think it'll work in this dish even if I was already sold on it when I spotted the kimchee. Keep up the delicious eats, I've got it in mind to make that butaniku no yasaimaki AGAIN.

  21. Though i love kimchi, that jar sitting in my fridge just never seems to empty itself... so YES! more ways for me to use up my kimchi, thanks for the recipe :)

  22. I just made this, eating it now actually. Good stuff.