My Love Affair with Noodles: Mushroom and Scallions in Miso Butter Yaki Udon

Yes, I love noodles and pasta more than I love any other carb. Since I was four, Tanuki udon was one of my favorites. So it evolved to almost all kinds of noodles: pasta, hand-pulled noodles, rice noodles, instant noodles, udon, soba, ramen, and shirataki noodles. If I would never get fat and too full, I would eat noodles.

Anyway, as a result, I kept experimenting with it during my free time. I put them in soup, tossed them in hot oil, I deep-fried them, put them in omelets, baked them, and even made them from scratch. Udon tops the list of my favorite noodles because of the nice chewiness that I get from them. I also liked the way that it can be so simple in a clear broth, but it’s so flexible that you can toss different flavors into it. So I am sharing with you one of my personal creations, as well as some tips for cooking and buying udon.

This dish is the fruit of all my previous undocumented experiences of experimenting in the kitchen and is something that I haven’t researched on—only tested and perfected in the kitchen. The miso lends a salty flavor with some depth from the fermentation, coupled with the rich flavor of the butter, and a slight sweetness from the mirin.  You also get a good punch of umami from the shitake mushrooms and the dashi, which when all combined, results into having most of your palate sing.

Mushrooms and Scallions in Miso Butter Yaki Udon

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Six Shitake Mushrooms, sliced (I used dried shitake and rehydrated them overnight), you can also add other mushrooms [enoki, straw, etc.] all amounting to about a cup.
  • ¼ cup of mushroom water (from rehydrating the shitake. If you don’t have this, just use regular water)
  • ¼ kilo squid (or any seafood), chopped
  • ¼ cup dashi broth or 1 teaspoon of hondashi granules
  • 1 teaspoon Japanese dark miso paste
  • 2-3 tablespoons tablespoon soy sauce (use 1 tablespoon superior dark soy sauce and 1-2 tablespoons regular soy sauce if you want a darker color)
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1/2 cup of scallions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2-3 packs of udon noodles, cooked according to package directions, then drained of the water.
  • Optional: all-purpose cream or full cream milk, for balancing out the flavor and for thickening, if it is needed.

Instructions:

  1. Melt the butter with the vegetable oil (to prevent burning/browning).
  2. Saute the garlic and half the scallions until fragrant, then add in the mushrooms.
  3. Add the soy sauce, dashi broth/hondashi granules, mirin, and mushroom water (if you are using it) and simmer on low medium heat for 5 minutes or until bubbles appear on the sides of the pan/pot.
  4. Add in the seafood and toss until seafood is cooked.
  5. Once seafood is cooked, lower the heat before adding the miso paste.
  6. Add the miso paste and dissolve it in the sauce.
  7. Taste to see if the broth is too salty, and check for consistency. If the sauce is quite watery or the broth is too salty, add all-purpose cream or full cream milk, one tablespoon at a time until you reach the right balance the flavor and consistency. This also further brings out the buttery taste.
  8. To check the consistency of the sauce, test it: Coat the back of the spoon with the sauce and run your finger through the back of the spoon—if the shape of the track stays put and no sauce overruns it, your sauce is ready. For this sauce, it should still be a little translucent.
  9. Toss in the udon noodles and add the rest of the scallions for garnish. You can also top your udon with bonito flakes and sesame seeds.

Udon Cooking Tips: Different Types of Udon

There are different types of udon that you can buy from the market and different treatments for each one. I personally like using fresh udon because it has the best consistency needed for most dishes, and absorbs flavor well. The second runner up goes to frozen, which I love using in soups. Dried udon is my least favorite—but for those who prefer a more al dente, pasta-like texture, the dried variant is for you.

Dried Udon:

If you’re using dried udon noodles (they come from a package like pasta), check for sodium content as these can get quite salty, depending on the manufacturer. If it’s unsalted, you can cook the udon according to instructions in salted water (usually about 8 minutes or less). The consistency though is like spaghetti, unlike its fresh and frozen counterparts.

Dried Udon. Don’t confuse this with somen or soba, both of which are thinner.

I read somewhere before that you can make it a bit chewier like fresh noodles by adding cold water again to the pot after putting the noodles in the boiling water, then bring to a boil, then adding another cup of cold water and bring to a boil again until the recommended cook time is over. However, I have not tested this yet, so proceed with caution.

Fresh Udon

If you’re using fresh udon noodles, cook your soup or sauce first before cooking your noodles. I don’t like dropping the noodles straight into my soup because the soup usually becomes murky and starchy, and the taste of the soup becomes different as well. The best way to do this is to cook it in a separate pot of boiling water (no salt) for about 1-2 minutes, then drain the water. I usually run this through cold water as well to prevent overcooking, and to remove the surface starch. This prevents them from sticking together and feeling starchy in the soup. Then, drain these noodles well before adding to your sauce/soup.

An example of fresh udon noodles in a pack

Frozen Udon

Frozen udon lends a similar springy texture like fresh udon, but can hold more water than usual. In my experience, it’s best used in soups because it has the least tendency to get starchy or overcooked. If you’re using frozen udon for a yaki udon recipe, allot a longer time to drain it before putting in the sauce as it tends to get too watery.

Make sure to protect your frozen udon from freezer frost so that it will be easier for you to separate the noodle bundles

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