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Udon

うどん Udon

Serve cold in summer and steaming hot in winter. Udon is one of the most popular Japanese staples. There is a variety of ways to season and serve udon.
To make udon, one can just add boiled udon and your preferred ingredients to the soup. Yaki udon can be enjoyed by frying the same udon and ingredients.


Keywords

  • ◆Tanuki & Kitsune
    Topping of only fried tempura batter is tanuki udon, while topping of fried beancurd is kutsune udon. These toppings are usually not mixed together.
  • ◆Eating while standing (station)
    The traditional fast food of Japan. One can eat while waiting for the train.
  • ◆Commoner's food
    The popular noodles which are eaten as a substitute of rice.
  • GURUNAVI Japanese Restaurants in Shingapore
  • GURUNAVI Japanese Restaurants

About
What is udon?
Easy to serve and add variety

Udon

Udon is a traditional Japanese noodle made by mixing wheat with salt and water. The dough is stretched long, cut into thin slices, and boiled to serve. There is a variety of ways to season and serve udon. Boiled udon may be chilled and dipped in a soup made with soy sauce and soup stock or served in a bowl of hot soup. Many different toppings are used to accompany udon, and udon may be called by the names that signify the toppings.

1. Bukkake udon
Boiled udon is placed on a dish and seasoned with a little bit of soy sauce.

2. Kitsune udon
Served with a seasoned deep fried tofu on top. Since people in Japan believed that kitsune (fox) loves deep fried tofu, it is called “kitsune udon.”

3. Tanuki udon
Udon topped with “tenkasu” or tempura batter bits (left over batter floating on the frying oil). There are various interpretations for its origin, but popularly, it is believed that since tempura batter bits have no “tane (main ingredients)”, this type of udon came to be called “tanuki (without)” which is a homophone for “tanuki (badger).”

4. Chikara udon
Udon served with a piece of mochi (rice cake) on top. It is a pun for “chikara-mochi” (muscleman) and “mochi” (rice cake).

5. Tsukimi udon (Moon viewing udon)
Udon served with a raw egg on top. Egg white represents white clouds and the yolk simulates the moon, and thus, the name “tsukimi”.

Many shops serve udon including udon specialty restaurants as well as franchise family restaurants. In super markets, udon is sold raw (boiled), dried (boil to serve), or frozen (frozen boiled udon). There are also cup noodles sold at convenience stores. These varieties verify that Japanese really like udon.
In addition, since well-cooked udon is soft and easy to digest, Japanese people often eat udon when they are not feeling well.

History
It is said that udon was brought from China in ancient times.

Udon

There are various stories about the origin of udon, but one legend tells us that a type of wheat pastry stuffed with sweet red beans called “konton” was brought from China during the Nara period (710-794). People put “konton” in hot soup and called it “onton” which eventually became “unton” and then, “udon” as we call it now.
By the Muromachi period (1392-1573), konton has become what we now know as udon. As the distribution of commercial goods became more active in Edo period (1603-1868), udon became a popular food among common people. Nowadays, most udon soup is seasoned by soy sauce but until this type of soup became popularized, udon was mainly seasoned by miso like today’s “misonikomi udon” (udon cooked in thick miso based soup).

Preparations
Udon is a simple staple, and its texture plays an important role.

Udon

To prepare delicious udon, it is important to boil udon properly.
With the advancement of technology, it has become easy to make fresh udon, ready to be boiled, using a noodle making machine. On the other hand, udon made by hand, starting from the first process of mixing wheat flour and water, is called “teuchi udon.” Teuchi udon is made through the following basic steps.
1. Mix water, wheat flour and salt.
2. Knead the dough by stepping on it.
3. Let the dough rest (leave the dough for a while to let it settle).
4. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin.
5. Fold the dough and cut it into thin strips.
Ratio of different ingredients in the dough, ways of kneading, as well as time allocated for each step, influence the result. There are various types of udon, and if you taste different udon, you will realize a wide variety of difference in texture when you chew it as well as the smoothness when it goes down your throat. Udon artisans pursue their skills to attain the optimal combination of texture and smoothness to create the udon they can be proud of.

Regional differences
Regional differences in seasoning and shapes of udon.

Udon

As for regional differences of udon, it is a well-known fact that seasoning for the dipping sauce and soup is very different between Western and Eastern Japan. In Western Japan, people prefer lighter sauce and soup. Dashi made by boiling dried bonito and/or kombu seaweed is seasoned with light soy sauce. On the other hand, Eastern region udon soup mixes thick soy sauce and sugar and dilute it with soup stock made from dried bonito and/or kombu. The soup has darker color and stronger flavor. In our daily conversation, these two types of soup are referred to as Kansai (Western Japan) and Kanto (Eastern Japan) style udon.
Also, each region has its own special udon, among which, Sanuku udon of Kagawa prefecture is one of the most famous. Sanuki refers to Kagawa prefecture in Shikoku, and udon produced in this region is generally called Sanuki udon. Kagawa’s climate is fit to produce high quality wheat. It is said that since the prefecture is also close to the production site of soup stocks and soy sauce to make udon dipping sauce, udon culture developed here. Sanuki udon is loved by people nationwide, and many people travel all the way to Kagawa prefecture to taste the authentic Sanuki udon. As such, Sanuki udon restaurants are all over Japan, not just in Tokyo.
Mizusawa udon from Shibukawa city of Gunma prefecture is also famous. Gunma prefecture is one of the largest production sites of wheat in Japan, and Mizusawa udon has 400 years of history. Mizusawa udon is known for its strong resilience generated by letting the dough “rest” for as long as two weeks during the above udon making process. In this region, there is even a “Mizusawa Udon Street” where udon shops and restaurants gather together, attracting tourists.
Yamanashi prefecture is known for a type of udon called, “Houtou.” Unlike regular udon, it is a very wide teuchi-udon and is stewed together with vegetables such as squash, scallions, shiitake mushrooms, and potatoes in miso-based soup. In Yamanashi, families pour left over soup from the previous evening over a bowl of rice in the morning and call is a “Houtou bowl.”

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