Udon are Japanese wheat noodles. They are made from all purpose flour, water and salt. Very simple affair, so it seems. Japanese Udon artisans make Udon that look like the ones made by machines. You can see those artisans making Udon noodles through the window at the front of good Udon restaurants. It is actually pretty amazing to watch. Udon is sometimes eaten hot in seasoned broth, but other times, it is eaten cold and dipped in sauce. It is an extremely popular lunch food in Japan and also in the US. A lot of Japanese restaurants in the US serve Udon and stores sell the noodles for home cooking, but you can make it at home. And not just the dish, I mean you can really make the Udon noodles themselves.
Because you can buy Udon noodles in many forms such as frozen or dried at many supermarkets, you might think it’s not necessary to make home-made Udon noodles. However, there are 3 reasons to make Udon at home:
1. You may like making fresh noodles at home. That’s me. I like making things from scratch. It is safe, preservative and other unwanted chemicals free. That’s can be a big deal for some people with a health conscious mind.
2. It tastes better made at home. This is just so true for any food. Home-made Udon has a different texture from store-bought, especially the dried kind. It is thicker, firmer, and heartier. Home-made Udon doesn’t get soft and soggy while you are eating it.
3. It is fun to make Udon. You knead the dough with your feet! Stepping on the dough may sound strange, but that’s the traditional way of making Udon in Japan. Get your family and friends involved in this process, and they’ll like doing it.
It’s not hard to make, but it will take some time letting the dough rest, and to roll it out, etc. The cost of ingredients is close to nothing, but you can put some labor in it. No one is an Udon artisan here, so it may not look perfect. Some noodles might be thicker than the others … but that’s OK. They still taste great. Hope you enjoy both making and eating home-made Udon!
- 1 cup (240ml) warm water
- 20g salt
- 400g all purpose flour
- Mix warm water and salt well until the salt is dissolved.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add salt water and flour. Mix with a dough hook at medium speed about 5 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest at least 3 hours in the refrigerator (preferably overnight).
- Take the cold dough from the refrigerator and let it return to room temperature. ((Remove from plastic and knead by hand for a couple of minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Cover and let it rest for 20 minutes.)) Put the dough in a strong 1 gallon plastic bag (such as a zip freezer bag), leaving it at least partly open to allow air to escape. Then put the bag of dough on the floor. Step on the bag of dough and knead with your feet until the dough spreads out, taking up the whole bag. Take the dough out and fold in half twice, into a smaller square. Repeat this kneading and folding 2 more times. Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest 20 minutes.
- Roll out the dough to 3 mm (1/8") thick about the size of 50cm x 35cm (20" x14") sheet, dusting well with a lot of flour so that it doesn't stick, and fold the dough into 3 layers. Cut the dough to 3 mm width noodles.
- Boil water in a big pot, and boil the noodles for 10-15 minutes. Strain and wash. Use as directed in recipes.