Someone told me “If you haven’t tried Japanese noodles, you’re not going to Japan yet.” So, I decided to take a shot. My friend recommended both ramen and udon noodle soups, and after some contemplation, I decided to make udon soup my first stop. We headed to this renowned spot in Shibuya, and it was an experience to remember.
Easy pork udon noodle soup recipe
Udon noodle soup is a whole different noodle ball game, especially for someone like me who is only used to Thai noodles. The texture of udon noodles is distinct. They are thicker and chewier than the thin and delicate Thai noodles. The broth is also different, it’s savory in a way that’s comforting and rich, creating a perfect harmony with the noodles.
So, here I was, trying to remake this noodle soup in my kitchen and hoping that it was not a mess. I made one of my favorite udon soup versions – Butaniku Udon or Pork Udon Noodle Soup.
First things first, the noodles. There are many types of udon noodles, including traditional wheat flour udon, whole wheat flour, brown rice flour, and even matcha (green tea) flavor udon. But you don’t need to worry about the noodles, ’cause you can buy it online. I cooked as instructions but reality hit hard. They stuck together like stubborn friends in a group photo. Here is my tip: adding a little vegetable oil after you drain them will help.
The heart of the matter is the broth. The original broth for udon noodle soup requires udon broth dashi, which is basically a Japanese stock. This contributes a distinct umami flavor to udon noodle soup. However, I replaced it with easier udon broth – pork broth.
The other steps were not too hard. I totally followed the steps and had this vision of perfectly slurpable Pork Udon Noodle Soup. My kitchen looked like a war zone but that rich, flavorful udon soup made it all worth it.
Here is how to make Pork Udon Noodle Soup:
Pork Udon Noodle Soup – Butaniku Udon
- 225 g udon noodles
- 450 g pork belly or pork shoulder thinly sliced
- 240 g sliced mushrooms shiitake or your choice
- 4 green onions sliced
- 4 boiled eggs halved
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds toasted
- 6 cups pork broth
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Nori (seaweed strips) for garnish Optional
- If you don’t have store-bought pork broth, you can make your own by simmering pork bones, onion, garlic, ginger, and water for a few hours. Strain the solids and keep the broth.
- Follow the package instructions to cook the udon noodles. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
- In a pan over medium heat, cook the sliced pork until browned and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In the same pan, sauté the sliced mushrooms until they are golden brown and cooked. Set aside.
- In a large pot, combine the pork broth, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil. Bring it to a simmer.
- Add the cooked udon noodles, sautéed pork, and mushrooms to the simmering broth. Let it cook for a few minutes until everything is heated through.
- Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning with soy sauce, salt, or pepper if needed.
- Ladle the udon soup into bowls. Top each bowl with sliced green onions, toasted sesame seeds, and a halved boiled egg.
- For an extra touch, sprinkle some nori strips over the bowls.
With this simple Pork Udon Noodle Soup recipe, you can create other udon soup recipes by replacing ingredients and broth. For example, if you make chicken or seafood or vegetarian udon soup, you can replace pork with chicken or vegetables/tofu and use chicken or vegetable broth. You can also add other ingredients like beef, duck, seafood (shrimp, prawn, salmon), spices (curry powder), coconut milk, oyster sauce, or miso paste.
Best side dishes to serve with udon noodle soup
Trying udon soup (Pork Udon Noodle Soup for specific) is a delightful experience, and the adventure only gets better with the side dishes. From the tangy crunch of pickled vegetables to the refreshing simplicity of edamame, each side dish harmonizes with udon in its unique way, creating a symphony of flavors.
Just so you know, these side dishes can go with other noodle soups like Soba noodles or ramen, and even spaghetti. Here are the best side dishes to eat with udon noodle soup.
- Tempura is a match made in culinary heaven with udon. Lightly battered and crisply fried vegetables or seafood, like shrimp and sweet potato, provide a delightful contrast to the hearty udon noodles.
- Edamame: These young soybeans, lightly boiled or steamed and sprinkled with sea salt, make for a refreshing and nutritious side.
- Gyoza (Japanese Dumplings): Whether pan-fried or steamed, gyoza filled with pork, shrimp, or vegetables are perfect companions to udon. You can dip them in a soy-based sauce for an extra burst of flavor.
- Agedashi Tofu: Crispy on the outside, silky on the inside—agedashi tofu consists of deep-fried tofu cubes served in a savory dashi broth. It adds a delightful contrast to the noodle soup.
- Yakitori (Grilled Chicken Skewers), glazed with a savory-sweet tare sauce, are a savory delight. The smoky flavor complements the udon broth well.
- Nukazuke (Pickled Vegetables): A side of pickled cucumbers, radishes, or even kimchi can provide a tangy and crunchy element that balances the richness of udon.
- Miso Soup: While udon comes with its own broth, a side of miso soup with tofu, seaweed, and green onions can add depth and variety to your meal.
So, feel free to mix and match these side dishes based on your preferences.
Best types of udon soup
There are several types of udon soup and I tried some of them. Here are some popular varieties that I want to try or try again:
- Kake Udon: This is the classic and most simple udon noodle soup recipe. Kake udon features thick, chewy udon noodles served in a simple broth made from dashi, soy sauce, and mirin. It’s often garnished with green onions and a sprinkle of bonito flakes.
- Kitsune Udon: Sweet and savory, kitsune udon includes a slice of deep-fried tofu called “aburaage” on top of the noodles. The name “kitsune” means fox in Japanese, and it’s said that foxes love fried tofu.
- Tempura Udon: I love this combination of crispy shrimp tempura and udon noodles in a flavorful broth. The tempura can also include vegetables or a mix of veggies and shrimp. The contrast of the crunchy tempura and the chewy udon simply blows me away.
- Nabeyaki Udon: Served in a hot pot or nabe, this udon noodle soup variation is a complete meal. It typically includes udon noodles, chicken, vegetables, mushrooms, and sometimes a raw egg cracked into the hot broth.
- Butaniku Udon: As you know above, this udon soup features succulent slices of pork as the star of the show.
- Curry Udon: The thick, rich curry broth pairs wonderfully with the chewy udon noodles. It’s often loaded with vegetables, meat, or tofu for a satisfying meal. This dish is on my wishlist.
- Yaki Udon: While not a soup, yaki udon is worth mentioning. It involves stir-frying udon noodles with a variety of ingredients like vegetables, meat, and soy-based sauce.
- Tsukimi Udon: “Tsukimi” means moon viewing in Japanese, and this udon is named for its raw egg resembling the moon. A raw egg is cracked into the hot broth, creating a silky texture. According to my friend, this dish is often enjoyed during the autumn season.
Each type of udon soup brings its own unique flavors and textures to the table. Whether the kake udon or the curry udon, they all dance on my taste buds.