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Food in Japan
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!
- 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.
- A Japanese pumpkin / squash
- 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.)
- "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.
- A fermented sauce made from soybeans, roasted grain, water and salt. Called shoyu in Japanese.
- Thick noodles made from wheat-flour.
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)
- 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
** chicken/vegetable stock may be substituted
*** a mix of sake/sherry and sugar may be substituted
- Saute the veggies in a frying pan until softened.
- Add the meat and continue until cooked through.
- Add salt and then the stock.
- Bring to the boil and stir in the curry roux.
- Add the cornstarch a little at a time until the curry obtains a thickish consistency.
- Add soy sauce and mirin to taste.
- Finally add the noodles and cook for about 1 minute or until heated through.
- Serve in large individual bowls. Eat immediately.
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