One of our favorite stops on our trip around Japan was to a restaurant where the owner grew his own wheat to make udon. So, for my first recipe from the road, I wanted to do a non traditional take on the dish. I don’t make it exactly like they do in Japan (since we aren’t using actual udon flour, which is very high in gluton). And on top of the noodles being non traditional — so is the sauce. Udon is served cold in the summer and hot in the winter. Usually it is served with dashi, mirin and soy sauce. Udon noodles are actually quite difficult to make. The man we visited had been perfecting his craft for 45 years. I have only been working on my technique for a few weeks. I knew I couldn’t perfectly replicate Udon, so I decided make it my own. So here is a Japanese twist on an American Classic: Udon Miso n’ Cheese. I think it turned out pretty good.
- 2 cups flour (plus 2 Tablespoons if needed)
- 2/3 cup warm water
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon red miso
- 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon shaved bottarga (optional)
Sift the flour into a bowl. In a separate container, combine the salt and water. Pour the water around the edge of the bowl of flour. Sift your hands through it, trying create small sand like balls of dough. After 30 seconds start to knead and combine into one chunk. Knead with your hands for five minutes. Then, either continue to knead for another 5 minutes, or have fun and do it with your feet. Seriously. The traditional way to make Udon dough is to use your feet. My dough is a little softer than the traditional version, so the foot action isnt necessary, but it is fun. So put plastic over your mixing bowl and step on it in a circle for 30 seconds. Roll it up into a ball again and press it with your feet again. Then roll it into a ball and let it rest, wrapped in plastic wrap for 30 minute.
With a large rolling pin, roll the dough out onto a big table. The dough will be very tough so you have to keep on rolling it out over and over again until it’s an 8th of an inch. This might take you 10 minutes, but trust me, it’s worth it for the texture. Once the dough is nice an thin, cover it with lots of flour. Fold the dough over on itself every 2 inches (like a chinese paper fan). This helps to allow you to cut long noodles. Take a very sharp knife and cut through the layers in 1/4 cm slices. Then unfold the noodles and drape them over something to undo the creases.
Cook the noodles in boiling water for 8 minutes. Once they have cooked for 7 minutes, remove almost all of the water. The leftover water should be thick and almost caramel like in its consistency. Add in the butter and miso and bring to a boil again. Shave in the parmesan cheese and bottarga (optional). The butter and cheese will turn the cooking liquid even creamier. Serve it hot with pickles or small salad tossed with rice wine vinegar.