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Food in Japan

Food in Japan

 

Curry Udon

John Rayner

John Rayner
Hailing from Sherwood Forest, Little John has been occupying space in the Far East for 10 years. His obsession with food and drink is only rivaled by his dedication to his beloved Saitama Jets.

 

 

 

A bowl of curry-udon consists of udon noodles submerged in a mild Japanese curry soup and, though eaten all year round, is the perfect belly-warming dish for a cold winter night. The curry broth should be served thick so as to cling to the noodles, hence allowing it to be eaten with chopsticks as opposed to curry-rice which is usually eaten with a spoon. (Note: even if you are quite advanced with your chopsticks, be prepared for some spillage and leave your best clothes at home!)

The curry itself is usually made from a few simple ingredients: onion, carrot, curry roux and thinly cut chicken, beef or pork. However vegetarian options such as kabocha (pumpkin) or deep-fried tofu are delicious alternatives. In contrast to Indian curry, it has quite a mild flavor.

Curry-udon is a popular dish in the countryside of northern Japan, as well as featuring prominently on the menus of restaurants in Nagoya, with Wakashachiya being one of the most well-known chains to specialize in this dish. In Tokyo, the Konaya group of restaurants is famous for its unusual brand of curry-udon and offers interesting toppings such as onsen egg (hot-spring egg) or deep fried banana.

For those of you who like to hit the ski slopes, curry-udon can often be found on the lunch menu at various ski resorts around Japan - highly recommended for both restoring the warmth to your toes and refueling your energy ready for some more skiing/boarding action in the afternoon. This is perhaps the most satisfying way to eat it - a local recipe served up piping hot when you are really cold and hungry. Once you've tried it, you'll be hooked!

 
 

 

Glossary

Dashi
- A soup/stock used for many bases in Japanese cooking. (Vegetable stock or chicken stock may be substituted depending on the dish)

Japanese Curry Roux
- Instant curry powder that is slightly sweeter and milder than other forms of curry powder.

Kabocha
- A Japanese pumpkin / squash

Mirin
- A kind of rice wine similar to sake but with slightly lower alcohol content and higher sugar content. (A reasonable substitute is to mix sugar with sherry or sake.)

Onsen Tamago
- "Hot spring egg" is a poached egg, usually eaten dipped in a sauce mixed from dashi-stock, mirin, and soy-sauce. It gets its name from the fact that a hot spring is the perfect temperature for boiling an egg.

Soy Sauce
- A fermented sauce made from soybeans, roasted grain, water and salt. Called shoyu in Japanese.

Udon
- Thick noodles made from wheat-flour.

Curry Udon

Curry Udon
Photo provided by FOODEX JAPAN

 

Curry-Udon Recipe

(Difficulty Rating: 2 out of 5)

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • 1 Carrot, cut into chunks
  • 100g Chicken Thigh Meat*
    (cut into small pieces)
  • Salt
  • Dashi Stock** (4 cups)
  • Japanese curry roux (1 large cube)
  • Cornstarch (1 or 2 teaspoons)
  • 50ml Soy Sauce (optional)
  • 50ml Mirin*** (optional)
  • 400g Udon Noodles
* pork, beef or vegetables may be substituted
** chicken/vegetable stock may be substituted
*** a mix of sake/sherry and sugar may be substituted

Instructions

  1. Saute the veggies in a frying pan until softened.
  2. Add the meat and continue until cooked through.
  3. Add salt and then the stock.
  4. Bring to the boil and stir in the curry roux.
  5. Add the cornstarch a little at a time until the curry obtains a thickish consistency.
  6. Add soy sauce and mirin to taste.
  7. Finally add the noodles and cook for about 1 minute or until heated through.
  8. Serve in large individual bowls. Eat immediately.

 

 

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