Life-Changing Udon Noodles
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
If you are under the impression you need to spend hours toiling over a pot of bones to make a highly seasoned broth to then make a good bowl of noodles, you must make Hetty McKinnon’s “life-changing” udon noodles from her latest book To Asia, With Love.
The broth is made with three ingredients — vegetable stock, soy sauce, and mirin — and after it comes to a simmer, it’s done. The rest of the broth’s flavor comes from garnishes: a pat of butter, a drizzle of sesame oil, a sprinkling of scallions, a pinch of sea salt, and lots of freshly cracked black pepper. The yolks of soft-boiled eggs impart the broth with a richness, and if you like a bit of spice, a spoonful of Sambal Oeleck or chili paste of choice seasons it further.
I love adding a heap of baby bok choy or other greens to make it a meal. If you like this idea, too, simply add them to the pot of boiling udon noodles, which typically cook in 1-3 minutes — the frozen udon noodles I buy cook in 1 minute, which is all the time most greens need.
Every time I make this soup, I am astounded by how quickly it comes together and by how flavorful and nourishing it is. In the intro to the recipe, Hetty writes that the recipe was inspired by a dish served at Shin Udon in Tokyo, the flavors and textures of which were “life-changing.”
About To Asia With Love
- Something I love about To Asia, With Love are the anecdotes, such as the one mentioned above. Many of the stories in TAWL are rooted in travel and discovery, which I think we all are craving right now.
- Like all of Hetty’s previous three books, To Asia, With Love is beautiful: its design, its photography, its recipes. In Hetty’s newsletter last fall, when she first shared this recipe, she described this book as her “most personal to date,” noting that it is “full of everyday Asian recipes made with simple ingredients (many of which you will already have in your pantry) along with personal stories of growing up in a Chinese household in Sydney.”
- I want to make everything in TAWL, namely the “restaurant greens”, which is my favorite thing to order at Chinese restaurants. I recently made the TAWL pad Thai salad, which was absolutely delicious (photo below). I’ll be sharing that recipe on my Instagram stories tomorrow, so follow along on Instagram if you’d like to try that recipe. I’ll keep it highlighted in my stories.
- There are two ways I keep up with Hetty: her Instagram and her newsletter. She is wonderful.
Friends! I have an extra copy of To Asia, With Love as well as a pair of TAWL chopsticks (photo below) along with some other Asian pantry treats. I’d love to give these goodies to one of you. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below. Tell me where you will travel first when you get the chance. I’m dying to go to Italy to eat pizza, England to watch soccer games, and Vietnam for noodles. Where do YOU want to go? The giveaway has been closed. The winner is: Sunny. I’ve emailed you. Thanks to all of you for your wonderful comments 💕 Love reading about where we’ll all travel next 💕
PS: Hetty’s Sushi Salad (This recipe comes from Hetty’s last book, Family, and after discovering it, I made it on repeat for weeks. It’s one of my favorites.)
How to Make Life-Changing Noodles
First, get the broth going by combining vegetable stock, soy sauce or tamari, and mirin in a pot. Bring it to a simmer.
Meanwhile, halve small heads of baby bok choy or other greens of choice.
You’ll need udon noodles (or other) noodles for this soup. I can’t recommend buying frozen udon noodles enough. They cook in 1 minute, and couldn’t be more delicious.
What your stovetop will look like: 1 pot for the noodles and greens (if using), 1 pot for the eggs, and 1 pot for the broth.
Cook the eggs for 6 minutes (for very soft boiled eggs) or 7 minutes for less runny soft-boiled eggs. Transfer to an ice bath immediately.
Cook the noodles and greens for 1 to 3 minutes.
Transfer greens and noodles to a bowl; then pour the broth over top.
Add a knob of butter, a drizzle of sesame oil, and a handful of scallions.
Top with soft-boiled eggs. Season with sea salt and lots of pepper.
Add some chili paste if you wish.
Such a good one! To Asia, With Love
This is the pad Thai salad from TAWL. Follow along on Instagram for the recipe tomorrow, April 7th.Print
Life-Changing Udon Noodles
- Total Time: 27 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4
- Diet: Vegetarian
From Hetty McKinnon’s To Asia, With Love
- Every recipe in To Asia, With Love is vegetarian. Hetty’s note from the book: To veganise this recipe, omit the eggs and use vegan butter.
- You may find you might want more of the broth (it’s so good), so just keep the ingredients handy — the veg stock, tamari or soy, and mirin. I often make a double batch of broth.
- Scale the recipe as needed. I often make a half recipe, which is perfect for Ben and me. Note: In the video, I make a half recipe, but I do not halve the amount of soy sauce — I use 2 tablespoons instead of 1.5 tablespoons. One of you noted that this made for a salty broth, so please keep this in mind if halving the recipe. Start with 1.5 tablespoons and add more salt to taste.
- 4 large eggs
- 800 g (1.75 lbs.) udon noodles
- 1/4 to 1/2 lb. of greens such as baby bok choy, optional
- 500 ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
- 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons mirin
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 80 g (6 tbsp) butter, cubed, or to taste, see recipe
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil or to taste
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Sambal Oelek or other chili paste, optional
- Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the eggs and set the timer for 6 minutes. As soon as the buzzer goes, immediately drain the eggs into a colander and run under cold water (or transfer to an ice bath) until they are completely cold. (This will make very soft-boiled eggs – if you prefer a firmer yolk, cook them for another minute.) Peel and set aside.
- Cook the udon noodles (and greens if using) in a large saucepan of salted water according to the packet instructions until al dente. This should only take 1–3 minutes, depending on whether your noodles are fresh, vacuum-sealed, or frozen. Drain, then scoop the hot noodles (and greens) into four bowls.
- Meanwhile, combine the stock, tamari or soy sauce, and mirin in a small saucepan and place over low heat until hot.
- Pour the hot broth over each bowl of noodles (and greens), and top with a soft-boiled egg. Add a knob of butter and allow it to melt into the noodles. Add the scallions and scatter a generous amount of black pepper over the noodles (use as much pepper as you like, but this dish is intended to be very peppery). Finish with a little drizzle of sesame oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
- If you like spicy, stir in a spoonful of Sambal Oelek or hot sauce of choice.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 7 minutes
- Category: Soup
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Asian
Keywords: udon, noodles, Asian, simple
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
378 Comments on “Life-Changing Udon Noodles”
Both recipes you shared from this book look fabulous!
It’s hard to pick one place, but since we were just talking about visiting Belgium with a friend from there, I’ll choose there!
Love how simple this is. Going to try it sometime!
If I could travel anywhere, I’d want to go to Finland. My maternal grandparents live there and I’ve never gone to visit them yet. I was supposed to last August. I’d bring Asian pantry staples over for them (we’re Vietnamese and it’s hard to get certain items over there). Plus I’d love to try all the Finnish goodies over there!
Can’t wait to try this recipe!! As far as travel goes, I’d love to go back to Paris — wonderful bread at every neighborhood boulangerie, cafe filtre on nearly every corner, and croissants for every breakfast. It makes me sigh just to write this! And that’s not to mention all the other wonderful tastes and smells of the city. After that, maybe someplace new and differently exciting.
Just was looking at Smitten Kitchen blog and she is doing a recipe from Ms. Mckinnons new book as well. Sounds like a great cook book to have. Haven’t traveled for awhile, but we recently discussed Hawaii, and something totally opposite, a Green Bay Packer football game with a few days spent in Chicago. And if allowed in the fall, British Columbia.
I want to go to to Tel Aviv and have an Israeli Breakfast (salads, pickles, cheeses, etc..) while sitting on the beach!
Heading straight back to Japan as soon as they re-open. Way too many good eats I am missing dearly…
Hope I’m not too late for the giveaway! I would love to travel to Japan for an amazing bowl of ramen. Can’t wait to try this recipe – my whole family will eat udon anything.
This looks delicious and I’m considering strongly to purchase this one! As far as travel, simply to visit my MIL on Long Island and my daughter in CA. Family!
This book looks fantastic! We are anxiously following airfare prices and quarantine rules in Australia to plan a visit to see family in Adelaide, hopefully with a side trip to Tasmania & Melbourne tacked on!
So easy and flavorful! Will definitely make again
Great to hear this, Natalie!!
We we’re planning a trip to Vietnam and Thailand to celebrate my husband’s residency program graduations when Covid hit – I so look forward to getting to go on that trip some point in the future! For now, road trips and camping are scratching the travel itch.
This books looks amazing – I need to find better sources for asian noodles. Pickings around here are slim :/
This recipe looks like yet another winner! I’m tentatively planning a walking trip in rural England with my neighbor, who grew up there. We’re in the daydreaming stage at this point, but we’re thinking along the lines of traveling from pub to pub on foot and enjoying the landscape and people we meet along the way.
These look delicious!! I will definitely be making them soon! When I can travel again, I’m dying to go back to Southeast Asia, Vietnam in particular!
I would love to visit Thailand for their fabulous beaches and street food. I’m excited to check out the cookbook!
I don’t know how I missed this recipe! Sounds so delicious and EASY. I’m Asian-American and serve my kids udon noodles often, so I’ll give this version a try ASAP. I usually wouldn’t comment unless I’ve made the recipe, but here I am entering the giveaway. 🙂 I would travel to sunny California to visit my sisters and their families and eat up all the yumminess on that side of the country.
Sounds great! Can’t wait to check out the new cookbook! I will travel to see family who still haven’t met our baby son!
This soup looks great. I am going to make it tonight. This cookbook is one I’d love to have.
I would love to travel to Thailand and Italy in the next few years. This summer, it will be a small trip from Michigan to the Catskills, NY area.
TAWL looks AMAZING! Thank you for highlighting this! Will definitely try soon!
Looking forward to travel this summer to Cape Cod for Gin and Tonics and lobster, Acadia Park in Maine for more lobster and bike riding and then Key Largo, FLA to try SCUBA for the first time and some delicious seafood 🦞❤️! Enjoy your summer!
Ali, this is a winner! And so easy. I couldn’t find udon noodles in the markets closest to home so substituted wide rice noodles (fresh, not dried), upped the veggies (generous amounts of broccoli, baby bok choy and enoki mushrooms), and cut back on the butter a tiny bit but otherwise did as you said. It’s a great quick dinner, and very satisfying.
Keep these great meal ideas coming. For vegetarians like me who eat dairy and seafood, your site is full of treasures. Thank you.
Oh Peg, yay 🙂 🙂 🙂 So nice to hear this. I love the idea of upping the veggie amount here, and I love the idea of cutting back the butter, too — there’ so much flavor going on. Thanks for your kind words.
Ali where do you buy frozen Udon Noodles? I would love to make this, but have no idea where to purchase frozen Udon noodles?
Hi Nancy! I buy them at my local Asian market. Do you have an Asian market near you?? If not, let me know … I’ll try to do some digging 🙂
This was delicious! I made it all in one pot. I mixed all the broth ingredients, brought it to a simmer and added the udon. Then I sprinkled the cabbage and cracked an egg on top. I let it cook for 3 minutes, put it in the bowl, and added the pepper and sesame oil and stuff. It worked great! It took me longer to find all of the sauce bottles than it did to make it.
So great to hear this, Julie! Thanks so much for writing. Love your method, too. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Ali, I tried & loved this recipe and all your helpful tips. I substituted rice vinegar for the mirin and it worked just fine if it helps anyone looking to make it without mirin. Thank you for the lovely recipe & video! I love watching you cook! haha
So nice to hear this, Izzah 🙂 🙂 🙂 You are too sweet … thank you. And thank you for taking the time to write and to share your notes. So helpful for others!
love your blog and recipes and recently bought your book! The video for these noodles is a bit misleading. It shows you making a 1/2 portion yet you used 2 tbsp of tamari/soy. According to the printed recipe, a 1/2 portion would be 1.5tbsp of tamari/soy. I should have adjusted when I just made a half portion and the broth had tipped over into “too salty” territory. Might be worth an update somewhere. Thank you!
Hi Mike! So sorry about that! I added a note to the recipe box, but unfortunately, I can’t edit the video at this point. Hopefully people will catch the note when halving the recipe. Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention.
What a terrific recipe! I used rice noodles because I already had some on hand, and added some thinly sliced shiitakes to the broth while it heated up. Such a simple, satisfying, and nourishing meal I know we’ll be making on repeat this winter. I always lean towards wanting cooked greens instead of raw when it’s cold outside, and I think this recipe would be fabulous with most any greens. Thank you Ali!
So nice to hear this, Michelle! Love the idea of adding shiitakes here … I bet they further flavor the broth as well. And agreed: so many greens could work here. Thanks for writing!
thanks for posting this recipe, ali. just finishing the last of it while i type. followed commenter julie h’s idea of dumping it all in the pot at one time and it was a breeze. subbed out the egg for some silken tofu. and didn’t use the butter at all. so so satisfying! thanks, always, ali.
So nice to hear this, Jude. Love the idea of adding tofu here. Thanks so much for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂
I can’t wait to try this. I dream of going back to Bosnia. I enjoyed my time while serving in the U.S. Army there 20 years ago and can’t forget the amazing people and the simple, mouth watering and authentic food they always served. The best pizza I ever ate was in Bosnia!
Love this recipe especially after a night shift when I’m craving something quick. I usually add sriracha and then a glug of rice vinegar at the end for some acidity. I don’t have bok choy kicking around most time but I’ll usually add green onion. I don’t often add the butter but I don’t miss it when I don’t. Love adding sesame seeds as well.
Great to hear this, Colleen! Thanks so much for writing and for sharing your notes 🙂 🙂 🙂
Been wanting to make this recipe for a bit long time and finally made it!!! After a long week of distance learning for kids and a crazy work week, we had grandma over for dinner and made this recipe! Delicious all around!!! Used dried udon noodles so I cooked them separately for a little longer, then added them to boy choy and broth. It was perfection! Will definitely keep on the short list for cold night recipes.
So nice to hear this, Valerie 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for writing. So glad the dried udon noodles worked out well.
This is life changing Best ramen I’ve ever made And perfect egg to go along with it! Yum So easy
So great to hear this, Pat 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks for writing.
I’m changed. Amen
Great to hear 🙂 🙂 🙂