I love pasta and noodles. Ramen, udon, soba, spaghetti, penne, łazanki, no matter the shape or flour used, I absolutely love boiled dough with tasty soups and sauces. But what do you do when you want soba but have no buckwheat flour? What do you do if you want pasta al pomodoro but you have no tomatoes? Well, you’re usually screwed. But there are cases where you can figure out the bare minimum of ingredients and replacements to still be able to call a dish that dish.
It might be hard to agree on what the bare minimum is though. Does pizza need to be round? No, there are square pizzas. Does it have to have cheese on it? No, the pizza marinara from Napoli has no cheese on it. Does the bread need to be from wheat flour? I’ve had pizzas made with cauliflower crusts. You get my point, it’s tricky to define a dish unless you’re extremely traditional both when it comes to ingredients and presentation. That being said, I’m making udon noodles now without using any special ingredients. You’ll find it all in any western grocery store.
Udon noodles for 1 hungry person
- 100 grams of all purpose wheat flour
- 5 grams of salt
- 45 grams of water
- Dissolve the salt in water
- Mix flour with the salted water
- When you have a ball of dough, put it in a thick plastic baggie, wrap the baggie in a cloth and stomp on it. Yup, your whole body weight should kneed that dough for at least 20 minutes. The gluten will develop, the whole thing will be elastic like plastic, just perfect!
- Leave the dough to rest for 1 hour
- Roll out the dough, then fold it into a square and roll out that square until it’s a large thick sheet of dough. Flour it and fold it and cut into long thick udon noodles.
- When it’s time to boil the noodles, bring a lot of water to a boil (don’t salt it!) and boil noodles for about 10 minutes. But careful, don’t boil it for too long. Try it after 3 minutes. It should be just cooked, no “dry core”.
- Wash them in cold water.
For the soup
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 vegetable cube stock
- A fish or beef cube stock (fish is better if you want the feeling of udon broth), or just another vegetarian stock if you want it all vegetarian.
- 1/2 onion
- 1/2 teaspoon of sugar (instead of sweet Japanese wine)
- 3 mushroom (instead of shiitake, just button mushrooms)
- 1 shitty carrot
- 2 litres of water
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 5 tbsp of light soy sauce
- (Bonus: Kombu. You’ll find it in asian stores, it’s dried kelp and it really gives a deep umami sea flavour, and gives it a really genuine Japanese flavour. But if you have none of this, just ignore it)
- Basically, chop everything up that can be chopped, and fry it in a little oil in a large saucepan, and then add water and stock cubes
- Boil until half the liquid has evaporated
- (If you have kombu, add one piece now and let it simmer 15 minutes and then remove it)
- Sieve it all back into the large saucepan
- Add sugar and soy sauce.
For the tempura
- 2 dl flour plus some more in a bowl on the side
- 4 dl water
- 10 ice cubes
- A lot of frying oil
- Any vegetables (e.g. carrot, bell pepper, aubergine)
- Heat up a lot of oil in a saucepan until 170 degrees celsius
- Mix the 2 dl of flour with the water into a light, watery battery.
- Add the ice cubes to keep it cold.
- Cut the vegetables into nice bite sized pieces
- First cover the vegetables in flour…
- … Then dip them into the batter.
- Fry in the hot oil until light golden coloured. Very light.
- Pour hot soup over the cooled noodles
- Make a dipping sauce of equal parts light soy sauce+sugar+vinegar
- Serve with freshly fried tempura