Miso Nikomi Udon is a hearty and comforting noodle soup where chicken, fish cake, and udon noodles are simmered in a miso-flavored dashi broth. When it’s cold outside, this noodle soup will warm you inside out.
Most udon noodle soups are served in clear dashi broth seasoned with soy sauce. However, in the Nagoya region, where Hatcho miso is known, you can find delicious udon noodle soup flavored with miso, called the Miso Nikomi Udon (味噌煮込みうどん). It’s deeply savory and topped with an assortment of ingredients. Hungry? Let’s reach for the tub of miso and whatever ingredients you have in the refrigerator and make this tonight!
What is Miso Nikomi Udon?
A popular “regional” food in Nagoya, Miso Nikomi Udon is also widely enjoyed across the country, using different types of local miso.
The noodle soup is usually served in individual donabe (Japanese earthenware pot). When the food arrives at the table, the soup is boiling, with lots of bubbling going on, and so much steam coming off from the pot.
Inside the steamy pot, you have chewy udon noodles, chicken, egg, fish cake (kamaboko), shiitake mushroom, long green onions (Negi), and deep-fried tofu (aburaage) in a savory miso-based broth. The broth is made with dashi, usually kombu dashi, katsuo dashi, or awase dashi (the combination of the two). With the chicken being cooked inside the broth, you get some light umami-packed dashi and chicken flavor.
5 Ingredients for Miso Nikomi Udon & Substitutes
1. Udon noodles
The original version uses Nama Udon (生うどん), which means freshly made udon. Typically, udon noodles are made of 3 ingredients: flour, water, and salt. However, udon noodles for Miso Nikomi Udon are made of only flour and water. This reduces the salt content as miso gets salty after long-simmering.
I have a recipe for homemade udon noodles and if you have time, you should definitely make the homemade noodles first, and then make this Miso Nikomi Udon. That would be a fantastic meal!
But that’s more like a weekend project. In this recipe, I use frozen precooked udon noodles from the Japanese grocery store so all you need to do is to run through hot water to separate it. I love using Sanuki-type udon for this recipe as it has a much chewier & bouncy texture. Some other udon noodles can be a bit more floury and doughy and break easily.
2. Dashi (Japanese Soup Stock)
For vegetarian and vegan-friendly dashi, make Vegan Dashi.
3. Your choice of the protein
Typically chicken and egg are used for this recipe, but you can omit them and make it vegetarian/vegan-friendly by adding lots of veggies, mushrooms, and tofu!
4. Other ingredients you can use
Living outside of Japan, ingredients can be hard to find. Long green onions can be replaced with the white parts of leeks and more green onions/scallions. Kamaboko, a Japanese fish cake, can be difficult to find, then try Chinese/Korean fish cakes from Asian grocery stores. Shiitake mushrooms may be hard to find, and if so, use other mushrooms available locally. To summarize, use ingredients you have in hand that you think it’ll be delicious in the miso-flavored broth.
5. Miso varieties
In the Nagoya region, Mame Miso (豆味噌), or 100% soybean miso, like Hatcho Miso (八丁味噌) is used for Miso Nikomi Udon. Mame Miso is perfect for all types of simmering dishes because it doesn’t lose much flavor and taste compared to barley miso (麦味噌) or rice miso (米味噌).
I used Hikari Miso® Organic Miso – Red Miso for my Miso Nikomi Udon, but Hikari Miso offers Hatcho Miso and we tried it for this recipe as well. Mr. JOC and I love it, but our kids don’t like the stronger taste of Hatcho Miso, so they recommended we use red miso instead.
Hikari Miso’s miso is all made of 100% USDA Certified Organic rice and soybeans and is additive-free. It has a dark brown color original to Shinshu-style miso. A high volume of rice koji produces its mild taste and smooth texture.
If you’re interested to try this miso out, you can purchase Hikari Miso® organic miso from most of Japanese/Asian grocery stores or on Amazon. Hikari Miso® is my favorite brand of miso paste and I’ve been using it for over a decade.
There is also a variety of miso, each with a different flavor you can use for various purposes. When you make Miso Nikomi Udon, you can choose any type of miso you like. Each miso has its own unique flavors that you can experiment with and enjoy.
Do I need to Use a Special Japanese Pot (Donabe)?
No, you don’t have to, but if you own a donabe, this is a good excuse to take it out and make this Miso Nikomi Udon. If you haven’t used it for a while, make sure to properly season it before you start using it. Here’s my tutorial on how to season your donabe.
If you don’t own one, then just use a big pot that can fit 3 cups (720 ml) of water, udon noodles, and some ingredients for serving two people. You can use a bigger pot to double the recipe or use half a portion for one serving.
Versatile Miso Udon Noodle Soup
Miso Nikomi Udon is a very versatile noodle soup, where you can throw in any vegetables or proteins you have in the refrigerator. Here in this recipe, I used what is considered “typical” ingredients for Miso Nikomi Udon so you know how it is commonly served in Japan, but please be flexible.
To keep it “authentic”, you will still need dashi (it’s an essential ingredient for what makes Japanese food authentic) and miso for this recipe. However, noodles, vegetables, proteins, and mushrooms can be replaceable. Have fun making your own Miso Nikomi Udon!
Miso Nikomi Udon
- 3 cups dashi (Japanese soup stock) (for vegan/vegetarian, make Vegan Dashi)
- ½ package shimeji mushrooms (1.8 oz, 50 g)
- 4 shiitake mushrooms (2.3 oz, 65 g)
- ⅓ kamaboko (fish cake)
- 1 Tokyo negi (naga negi; long green onion) (4 oz, 113 g; or use 2 green onions)
- 1 piece aburaage (deep-fried tofu pouch) (today I used 2 small aburaage)
- 1 chicken thigh (7 oz, 200 g)
- 2 servings udon noodles (1.1 lb, 500 g frozen or parboiled udon noodles; 6.3 oz, 180 g dry udon noodles)
- 2 large eggs (50 g each w/o shell)
- shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice) (for sprinkling)
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Cut the end of ½ package shimeji mushrooms and separate into smaller chunks.
- Cut the stem of 4 shiitake mushrooms and cut in halves. I use sogigiri cutting technique to increase the surface.
- If you‘d like, you can make a decorative cut on the shiitake mushrooms.
- Cut ⅓ kamaboko (fish cake) into 4 slices.
- Cut 1 Tokyo negi (naga negi; long green onion) diagonally, and separate white and green parts (we will add them to the pot at different times).
- Pour hot water over 1 piece aburaage (deep-fried tofu pouch) to get rid of the factory oil. Some people skip the step as the oil used is cleaner these days. I do it anyway to get rid of excess oil. [Optional] Cut into smaller pieces. I cut into triangles.
- Cut 1 chicken thigh into smaller bite-size pieces. I use the sogigiri technique to create a bigger surface of the chicken so it will cook faster and absorb more flavors.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add 2 servings udon noodles and loosen it with chopsticks. As soon as they are loosened (30 seconds or so), drain the udon noodles into a colander and set aside. If you use dry noodles, follow the package instructions.
- Crack 2 large eggs (50 g each w/o shell) into a small bowl (so you won’t accidentally drop an eggshell into the pot) and make sure all ingredients are now ready to go!
Cook Miso Nikomi Udon
- In a large pot (or donabe), add the dashi, chicken, and white part of negi.
- Cover to cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the outside of the chicken is no longer pink (inside can be still pink at this stage). When boiling, turn the heat down to simmer. Skim off the fat and scum with a fine mesh skimmer.
- Add 3 Tbsp mirin and 3 Tbsp of the 4 Tbsp miso. (Keep 1 Tbsp for later. Why? Read my post.) I use a Miso Muddler and it works wonderfully to make sure miso is dissolved completely. You should place miso in a ladle and use chopsticks to let miso dissolve inside the ladle before releasing it into the dashi. That way you can make sure there are no miso chunks left at the bottom of the pot.
- Add the udon noodles, aburaage, shimeji mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, and green part of negi. If you care about the presentation of this dish, now is a good time to place each ingredient and fish out the chicken pieces and place on top of udon noodles.
- Increase the heat to medium, cover with the lid, and cook for 5 minutes. When boiling, turn the heat down to simmer. Once in a while, make sure to check udon or other ingredients are not stuck on the bottom of the pot, by inserting cooking chopsticks. Skim off the fat and scum with a fine mesh skimmer.
- Add the remaining 1 Tbsp miso in the soup. Be careful not to drop the chunk of miso. Use a ladle as a “mixing bowl” so you won’t lose the miso.
- Add kamaboko fish cakes (where it could have a nice color) and carefully drop the eggs in the middle. From this point, you do not want to cover with the lid (egg yolk will have a thin white coating when you cover). Cook for 2–3 minutes.
- Serve the pot at the table along with individual bowls. Serve in the bowl and sprinkle shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice) for a bit of spicy kick.