Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bocha Bocha Udon (Splashy Noodles - Japanese Style)

The secret to making those amazing noodle soups: the right broth, the right noodles, and not so much random stuff.

Just add broth - bok choi leaves and stems, pea pods, teriyaki chicken,
fish cake (kamaboko - its traditional!) and scallions
Even though it is noodle soup, the vegetables are really one of the most important parts.  Noodles are shelf (ramen) or freezer (udon) stable, as is the fish cake (kamaboko), so they can be bought at any time.
But leaves, they need to be caught up and captured when opportunity and the season allows.  Late spring and early summer means tender bok choi, pea pods and scallions are sweet and green, and will balance a hearty fishy broth to astounding (possibly legendary?) effect.

But the greens can't stand alone.  They need the support of salty, savory and sweet, along with the extending and sweet chewy foil of a proper udon noodle.

scallions (9:00), teryaki chicken, kamaboko (fishcake) and
udon noodles (frozen clump, ready for boiling) 
The noodle broth needs to be properly complex and tasty.  There are many ways to accomplish this.  If I were in Japan (or San Francisco) there would be several Best Of places to direct the connoisseur.  Here in Seattle, lacking a lucky strike in the C.I.D., the 2nd best is getting bonito sachets from an Asian or well supplied market (steer clear of things with "not fish" as the 1st ingredient - If it smells like fish food you most likely have the right stuff.)  Follow the directions on the box.  If the directions are in characters, rather than letters... do the following (in true barbarian style - I've figured this out though trial and error.  If you know better do it your way):

a) in one large pot, bring plenty of water to the boil - add the frozen udon noodles.  When the water returns to the boil, boil for 2-3 minutes, drain and add a bit of sesame oil to keep the noodles from sticking.  If you are working with dried? udon {which I have never seen} use what directions you can find.
b) find a reasonable recipe for dashi/noodle broth on the internet.
c) see the next picture

My favorite (easy) noodle broth:
4C water - bring to a boil
Add sachet (10g) of fish flakes - boil 5 min - remove fish flakes
lower to simmer and add 1/2C (115ml) soy sauce and
1 Tbs/1oz. sugar (28g)
garlic and ginger are optional/to taste
(revise and adapt as you develop preferences) 
ready for boiling water - genmaicha
roasted rice and green tea.  Smells like home
to much of the Pacific rim  - both East and West sides
- even if we've never had it before.

The very best part of Bocha Bocha (Japanese for "splashy") Udon is that is can be personalized in a large crowd.  Splashy - beacuase that's what happens to one's nose when you slurp them properly.

Everyone gets a bowl of noodles - lubricated with a bit of sesame oil.
Top with leaves, proteins (chicken - teriyaki or otherwise, beef, tempura shrimp, fish cake, sliced hard boiled eggs, fried or cubed tofu - many combinations also suffice) other vegetables, and possibly a pickled vegetable (radishes or chrysanthemum petals can are traditional) to one's taste - and then scallions/green onions for all create a delicious yet individual feast for a small crowd - even the picky ones.

Meatless Monday you say?  Go with a veggie broth, and toss in a handful of mushrooms and sliced inari skins to fill up the meaty flavors and the protein desires.  Any extra inari strips can be fried up and added to a salad the next day.  (honest, I'll show you soon!)

A truly versatile meal - and once you get the hang of it - quicker than takeout and MUCH cheaper than delivery.


Nancy said...

Looks delicious

Greta said...

And super easy to adjust to whatever happens to be in the fridge.