One of the absolute best things about living in Seattle is the insane amount of GOOD Asian food there is. There is an awesome International District, and scattered throughout the remaining metro area are literally thousands of restaurants and markets for just about every country and region. Since living here, I have found that I have an addiction to Asian noodle soups. Seriously. I can’t get enough Pho Ba. Spicy Ramen is my jam. I will fight someone for some Tom Kha Gai, and I absolutely love love love Udon Noodle soup.
I didn’t know this about me until about two years ago, and it’s something that is becoming kind of concerning considering the fact that in a few short months, Joe and I will be making the move out East for my PhD. I’ll admit something very pretentious and probably wrong, but I’m skeptical of the Asian food selection out there. I’ve become spoiled knowing that for $5-$10, I can get my fix without any work. Upon coming to that realization, I made it a mission to learn how to make these soups so that I won’t die of withdrawal. My first attempt was Beef Udon noodle soup, and I am so proud because it was a SUCCESS!
Last weekend, Joe and hit up an Asian market after a bit of spring cleaning. If you know me, it should come as zero surprise that I can spend hours (and good portion of a paycheck) in Asian supermarkets. Fortunately, they are incredibly cheap, but I have zero self control — I’ll come home with some kind of root, an unmarked spice bag, and no idea what the hell to do with either of them. Joe knows this, and made me swear that before going in, I would limit myself to $20 and $20 minutes. I really didn’t think I could do it, but I did! I went in as a woman on a mission, and only came out with 4 things not on the list. (I’m a sucker for pocky, iced green jasmine tea, and frozen dumplings). But I found what I was looking for, and that was the ingredients for a good Beef Udon soup! Fun fact — buy your produce, seafood, and meat from your local Asian market. The prices are usually cheaper, and depending on the store, the quality is still great!
Onwards to the actual recipe! If you’ve ever had any type of Japanese soup, you know that the broth, usually Dashi, is a huge part of it. Fish “flake” based, it is salty, savory, and slightly sweet flavor — making this broth the perfect example of Umami, one of the 5 basic tastes. I find the science behind taste EXTREMELY interesting, and it is something I am considering writing a whole series on, but for now, just take my word that this taste, is an awesome flavor. For this batch, I cheated. I didn’t have the patience (this time) to make the broth from scratch, so I bought a packet of Hon Dashi to compensate. I was a bit hesitant to use a box packet for broth, but I was pleasantly surprised — I guess it makes sense since this is the most widely used “alternative” to the real thing. Once I added in the other key ingredients, Mirin, Soy, and Sugar, it tasted close to the real thing!
To make this soup a bit heartier, I wanted to add some beef, so I went with a Round Steak that was on sale at the market (so I could meet my budget). Full disclosure, I did NOT cut my meat thin enough, and in hindsight, I would have used a more tender and less cheap cut of meat, like tenderloin. A simple marinade using Mirin, Soy, Garlic, Rice Wine Vinegar, and sugar made it awesome nonetheless. In addition to the meat, we used store-bought Udon noodles that were simple to use, as well as some lightly sautéed brown mushrooms, various cuts of leek, and a quick-blanched bok choy that rounded it all out! Topped with a poached egg, this soup really hit the spot — and since Joe and I were both coming down with a pre-Spring cold, I think it may have had some healing properties too. Give it a shot, and let me know what you think!
Drink with: Warm Sake or green tea.
Pair with: This soup is totally good by itself. If you want to add something else, a nice salad with a sesame-ginger dressing would do the trick.
Beef Udon Noodle Soup
Hearty noodles in a savory broth will curb your Japanese cravings and soothe your soul!
- 2 Packs Precooked Udon Noodles.
- 1 Large Leek
- 4C Water
- 2T Hon Dashi Stock
- 3-4T Soy Sauce
- 2T Soy
- 2T Mirin
- 2t Sugar
- 1/2t Salt
- 2T Leek (Bottom part sliced into thin rounds)
- 1lb Beef, thinly sliced
- 3T Soy Sauce
- 2T Mirin
- 1T Rice Vinegar
- 1T Rice Wine (optional)
- 2 Cloves garlic, minced
- 2t Minced Leek (green top part)
- 2t Sugar
- 4 Baby Bok Choys, separated
- 6 Mushrooms, quartered
- 2 Eggs, poached
- Julienned Leek (middle part)
- Step 1 Marinate Beef: Add all ingredients to bowl, stir, and then stir in thinly sliced beef. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Step 2 Make Broth: Boil 4 cups of water. Add in Hon Dash powder. Stir to dissolve.
- Step 3 Add in Soy Sauce, Mirin, sugar and salt. Drop heat to a low simmer.
- Step 4 In another large pot, bring 6C water to a boil.
- Step 5 Add Box Choy, and cook for one minute. Remove without dumping water, and run under cold water. Set aside on paper towels to drain.
- Step 6 In same pot, cook the noodles for 1 minute. Drain and run under cold water. Set aside.
- Step 7 Heat 2t oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add beef, and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Remove meat, and drain any excess liquid, keeping the browned bits.
- Step 8 In the same pan you used for the meat, add in 1t of oil, and turn to high heat. Quickly sauté the noodles, for one minute. Divide between bowls.
- Step 9 In the same pan, flash-fry the mushrooms and julienned leek for 2 minutes. Drop heat, add the Bok Choy, and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
- Step 10 Pour broth over noodles, and top with beef, veggies, and a poached or soft boiled egg!
- Step 11 Enjoy!