Kanako's Kitchen

Tsukimi Udon: Noodle Soup with Poached Eggs

Posted in main dish, Recipe, today's meal by Kanako Noda on October 22, 2009

udon finishUdon is a traditional thick wheat noodle, extremely popular in my home region of Kansai. There are any number of ways to make Udon: recipes change from region to region and from season to season. The Japanese version of Wikipedia lists no fewer than 29 regional variations – some dryer, some wetter, some wider, some narrower, some cooked soft, others almost “al dente”.

In Shikoku – the spiritual home of udon – they eat it without any dashi, just soy sauce and, sometimes, with a raw egg on top. That doesn’t appeal to me very much, but I’ll tell you what does: Tsukimi Udon. Literally “watching-the-moon udon”, this is a seasonal automn recipe my husband loves, a noodle soup with poached eggs.

As with many udon dishes, you could also make this with soba – buckwheat noodles. You could, but I wouldn’t: as far as I’m concerned, soba is “northern” food. Where I’m from, it’s udon or bust.

Before we start, please be aware – Udon is not Italian pasta. The “common sense rules” you learned cooking spaghetti will not work here. And, whatever you do, do not cook the noodles in the broth! You really do need to cook them separately, drain them, cool them, rub them with your fingers, and only then add them to the soup. Trust me, it makes a big difference.


ingredientIngredients (for two)

  • Udon Noodles – 200 g. (use dry udon, avoid the “fresh” pre-cooked kind you sometimes see in Asian stores)
  • Napa Cabbage – a few leaves
  • Spring Onion – one
  • Konbu – one small section
  • Eggs – two
  • Dashi – 3 teaspoons
  • Sake – one tablespoon
  • Soy sauce – one teaspoon
  • Salt – one teaspoon
  • Tenkasu – tempura bits

Preparation

  • Chop the napa cabbage horizontally, thin
  • Chop the spring onion

Cooking

Set up two separate pots, one large one (to cook the noodles), the other one smaller (to make the soup)

  1. Fill the large pot with water and bring to a boil
  2. Cook the noodles for two minutes less than the instructions in the package suggest. (Usually the package says to cook the udon 12 minutes – if so, cook it for 10.) Do not add salt to the cooking water, Udon is already salted.
  3. When the Udon is finished cooking, drain it and rinse it with cold water. Use your hands to rub off the slimy residue (after this udon becomes “al dente”).
  4. Shake well in the strainer to get rid of excess water. Set aside.
  5. Put two cups of cold water in the smaller pot, place a piece of konbu in it, then bring it to a boil
  6. Once the smaller pot boils, add three teaspoons of dashi, the tablespoon of sake, the teaspoon of soy sauce and a teaspoon of salt. The broth for Udon soup should have more dashi and be saltier than the broth for osuimono.
  7. Add the napa cabbage
  8. Add the now cool udon into the broth.
  9. Once the broth boils again, crack open the two eggs and pour them over the Udon – be sure the yolks are a few centimeters apart so they can be served separately
  10. Add the spring onions
  11. Cover and cook over a low fire for 1 or 2 minutes – ideally, the egg yolk should still be runny at the end of the process
  12. Ladle the broth and noodles onto large bowls, then place one egg yolk on top of each bowl. (That’ll be the “moon” we’re watching!) Be very careful to keep the egg yolks intact.
  13. Sprinkle with tenkasu if you like.
  14. Serve right away: udon needs be eaten hot.

konbu add napa cabbage boil udon drain

wash udonadd udon in the soup add eggs add spring onion

click to enlarge

One last “cultural” note. I know it horrifies Western people, but to eat Udon properly you have to slurp it! There is a reason for this: it helps you airate the very hot noodles as you eat them, which keeps you from burning the roof of your mouth at the same time it accentuates the taste of the broth.

Give it a try!

udon

Today, we slurped this udon for lunch. Itadakimasu!

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12 Responses

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  1. Billy said, on October 23, 2009 at 3:21 am

    I love the how you layed out the pics. Easy to understand and very informative.

    • kanako said, on October 23, 2009 at 8:16 am

      Thank you. I want the pics like that, even if they aren’t very aesthetic…

  2. revbob22 said, on October 23, 2009 at 9:42 am

    I’m going to have to stop reading your blog until after I eat. This is torture!~

  3. Yin said, on October 27, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Hi, I came across your blog randomly while surfing the net – your recipes are great!

    Just wondering, what exactly is konbu and dashi? I know dashi to be a sort of soy sauce, is this correct? Is konbu simply a soup stock of some sort? Is there any generic english names for them – I think it might be tricky to get these ingredients from a grocery without even knowing what they are!

  4. Jenn said, on December 4, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    Hi! I came across your blog while surfing for Japanese recipes and really love the recipes you are posting.
    I am familiar with dashi and usually make it at home with kombu and katsuobushi flakes. Was wondering from your recipe when you mean 3 tsp of dashi – is it 3 tsp of instant dashi (such as the graules) or 3 tsp of the dashi liquid stock?

    Thanks for clarifying for me. I look forward to trying your recipes very soon!

    • kanako said, on December 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm

      Hi Jenn,
      thank you for visiting my site.
      That’s great you are making dashi by yourself.

      I don’t make dashi stock because I’m sending for a special good dashi powder from Kyoto, which is not for sale in general. It’s also too much work for me. So Dashi, I mention here, is always powdered dashi.

  5. Jenn said, on December 7, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Thank you so much for your clarification! It’s great you have access to some special good dashi! I can’t wait to make this dish for tonight! Thanks again.

  6. Jenn said, on December 17, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Hihi Kanako,

    Finally gotten around to making this tonight for dinner. It was another success! Thanks.
    Hope your camera issues are resolved soon and you will be posting new recipes!
    Have a great weekend.

    • kanako said, on December 19, 2009 at 6:10 pm

      Hi Jenn,
      thank you for the comment. I hope to fix the camera as soon as possible…

  7. Bo said, on February 20, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Hi Kanako,

    how do I know when the egg is cooked? Is there a specific colour, or do I wait for it to boil, or should it be a certain texture/stiffness?

    I’m only a teenager but I always have the most trouble with the timing of eggs.

    By the way, I loved the pictures! Kanako-san is very helpful.

    Thank you!

    • Kanako Noda said, on February 24, 2015 at 7:07 am

      Hi, Bo
      egg will be cooked when you find the white of an egg turns white, not transparent. I like soft-boiled egg, so I use fresh eggs.


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