Life-Changing Udon Noodles
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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 💕
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
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