Niku Udon is Udon noodle soup with beef (Niku=meat), but don’t let the name deceive you. It is not just throwing sliced beef into the soup, but there is more to it. The beef topping, to be placed on regular Udon noodle soup, is cooked in sweet and salty seasonings and punched up with ginger. This beef could even be a wonderful dish without Udon. Niku Udon looks quite simple and, in fact, it is not so hard to make, but the flavor combination of noodles, soup, and the cooked meat is surprisingly but intentionally complicated and delicious.
If you go to any Udon restaurant in Japan, Niku Udon is definitely on the menu. Though it may not be as popular as Tempura Udon or Kitsune Udon, it is still a regular member on the list. Because of the beef and its strong flavoring, it is a little more hearty and satisfying than some other kinds of Udon dishes. For a lot of people in Japan, Udon is more lunch than dinner, but Niku Udon could be suitable to serve for dinner too.
The taste of the beef topping is something between Sukiyaki and Shigureni. If you like that kind of soy sauce and sugar flavor, you will like this dish. When you eat Niku Udon, first you can enjoy the top part of the beef which has a full flavor. The beef in the bottom part will get a little diluted in the soup, so it is a bit milder, but then the soup gets a hint of sweetness. Ginger gives a nice fragrance and a bit of spiciness too. If you like even more heat, add Shichimi, hot red pepper powder, for an extra kick. The combination of strong flavors make this variation of Udon a different and delicious part of the Udon family.
- 1/2 lb (225g) beef, thinly sliced
- 1/2 brown onion
- 15g ginger root, thin julienne
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Mirin
- 2 Tbsp Sake
- 2 Tbsp water
- 2 packages frozen Udon (use frozen or thawed)
- 4 cups Dashi (960ml)
- 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 3 Tbsp Mirin
- 2 Tbsp Sake
- 4 green onions (thinly and diagonally cut)
- shichimi (hot pepper powder)
- Make seasoned beef. Cut sliced beef into large pieces. Slice onion thinly. Cut ginger into thin match stick pieces.
- Heat oil in a frying pan at medium heat, and add beef. When the beef turns color, add ginger and onion, and cook until soft. Then add sugar, Soy Sauce, Mirin, Sake, and water, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Let cool in the pan.
- Make Udon. Cut green onions thinly and diagonally. Set aside.
- Heat Dashi to a boil. Add salt, soy sauce, Mirin, Sake. Add Udon to the soup and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes (If Udon is frozen, cook a couple of minutes longer.).
- Assemble.Divide noodles and soup into bowls and top with beef and green onions. Sprinkle with shichimi if you like.