It is said that Inari Ōkami, the shinto god/goddess of fertility, prosperity and agriculture, is served by a legion of Japanese foxes (kitsuné). Legend has it that these kitsuné love aburaage (pronounced abura-agay), which is why dishes made with these fried puffs of tofu often have “inari” or “kitsune” in their name.
In the case of Kitsune Udon (“fox” udon) it’s topped with a piece of fried tofu that’s been seasoned with soy sauce, sake and sugar, called inari-agé. If you’ve ever had inarizushi you’re probably familiar with these flavorful fox colored pouches that are used to hold a ball of sushi rice inside, but they’re equally delicious served over a bowl of steaming udon noodles.
Kitsune udon is simple to make, but like a cunning fox, there are a few tricks to making it even easier and better. The first trick is to par-boiling the aburaage before seasoning it. This rids the tofu of excess oil, making the aburaage easier to season and preventing your kitsune udon from getting greasy.
Once seasoned, the inari-agé will last for a week in the refrigerator and much longer in the freezer, so you can make a big batch of these and freeze them in single serving sizes so you have some around when you find yourself craving a big bowl of comfort.
My other trick for making a batch of kitsune udon quickly is to always have Mentsuyu on hand. Mentsuyu, which literally means “noodle broth” is a noodle soup base made with dashi broth, soy sauce, sake and other seasonings and you can get my mentsuyu recipe here. If you end up using a bottled mentsuyu be sure to read the directions for diluting it as every brand comes in different concentrations.
As for the udon, I like using fresh noodles, but dried ones will work as well. Regardless of the type of noodles you use, be sure to cook them for slightly less than the time specified on the package as the noodles will continue to cook in the broth. You can also make this with soba noodles, which would make it Kitsune Soba (きつね蕎麦).
- Fill a pan with some water and bring to a boil. Add the aburaage and boil for about 1 minute. Pressing down on it with a spatula to help coax out any extra oil.
- Drain the aburaage in a strainer and use something (other than your hand) to press any excess water out of it. Slice the aburaage in half.
- Wipe-out the pan with a paper towel and then add the sugar, sake, water, and soy sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil and then add the aburaage.
- Simmer until there is almost no sauce left in the pan.
- To make the soup for the kitsune udon, simply dilute 3 1/2 tablespoons of my mentsuyu with 2 1/2 cups of water (for 2 servings) and heat in a pot.
- Boil the udon according to the package directions, drain well.
- Split the udon between two bowls and then place an inari-agé in each bowl. Garnished with the sliced scallions and kamaboko and then finish your kitsune udon by pouring the soup over the top. Serve with shichimi togarashi.