inaniwa udon, kishimen, sanuki udon, okinawa soba, udong
Udon is one of the 3 most common Japanese noodles. While there are many regional differences in thickness and texture, it is almost always made with wheat flour. As with any type of pasta, fresh udon is the best, but they also come frozen as well as dried. The cooking time varies widely from a few minutes to as much as 20 minutes depending on the thickness and density of the noodle. If the package you get does not have english directions look for a number followed by the following symbol “分”, which means “minutes”. This should give you an idea of how long they need to be boiled for.
What’s it taste like?
Because the noodles are typically served with a soup or dipping sauce they don’t have much of a flavour on their own. They do however have a wide variety of textures. Some regional varieties such as Kishimen and Inaniwa Udon tend to be thinner, but still have a slightly chewy texture when cooked al dente. Sanuki Udon on the other hand which comes from the Kagawa prefecture is thick and very chewy with a texture almost reminiscent of rice cake (even though the noodles are made from wheat flour).
Where do I get it?
You should be able to find dry Udon at almost any supermarket that has an Asian food section. If they carry it fresh, it would most likely be in the refrigerated aisle near the tofu. For the best selection, try to find a Japanese market in your area.
When is it best?
Fresh is best, but some of the frozen ones and even the dry ones can be quite good as long as you don’t over cook them.
How do I use it?
Udon can be served hot in a broth, or cold with a dipping sauce. The toppings and soups are similar to soba with variations such a tempura udon, kitsune udon (with fried tofu) and tsukimi udon (with a raw egg on top). Other variations that are exclusive to udon noodles include karei udon (with japanese curry on top), and yakiudon (pan fried with veggies, seafood and a sweet sauce).
Udon noodles are high in carbohydrates and protein.