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Sara Udon (Crispy Noodles with Seafood) 長崎皿うどん

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    A Japanese take on the popular Chinese crispy noodles with saucy seafood and vegetables. Forget take-out and make this Nagasaki Sara Udon tonight instead!

    A white bowl containing Crispy Noodles with Seafood (Sara Udon).

    Since I was small, I’ve always loved foods that have a crispy and crunchy texture, and Sara Udon (皿うどん) was no exception. This noodle recipe is the Japanese version of the classic Chinese dish – Crispy Noodles with Seafood 海鮮炒麵, featuring stir-fried seafood, pork, kamaboko fish cake, cabbage, bean sprouts, and other colorful vegetables, atop a bed of pan-fried egg noodles.

    Sara Udon was always my first favorite at the Japanese-style Chinese restaurant while the other kids would go for Chahan (炒飯 – fried rice) or Gyoza. When the plate of noodles served in front of me, I made sure to devour the crispy bits of noodles as fast as possible before they get wilted from the remaining heat of the sauce on top.

    Watch How to Make Nagasaki Sara Udon

    A Japanese take on the popular Chinese crispy noodles with saucy seafood and vegetables. Forget take-out and make this Nagasaki Sara Udon tonight instead!

    What is Sara Udon?

    Sara Udon (皿うどん), literally means “plate noodles” in Japanese. It consists of two parts: crispy fried noodles on the bottom and stir-fried seafood, pork, and vegetable sauce on top. All the ingredients in the soup are thickened with a small amount of slurry, so they coat well with the noodles.

    By now you’re probably wondering where is the “udon noodles” as it’s called Sara Udon.

    Well, the definition of udon can be a little ambiguous at times. Before it was called Sara Udon, the dish used to be one of the versions of Champon – a noodle dish introduced by a Chinese restaurant Shikairō (四海楼) back in Nagasaki, where Champon was first created. If you are not familiar with Champon, you can read my post first.

    A ramen bowl containing Champon.


    Thick Champon noodles, which look slightly like a thinner version of udon noodles, were served on a plate, and the ingredients were served over the noodles without soup for the ease of home delivery. Since the noodles were served on the plate, this version was eventually named Sara (“plate”) Udon instead of Champon.

    A white bowl containing Crispy Noodles with Seafood (Sara Udon).

    Later on, thin noodles that are fried to crispy were introduced and became another version of Sara Udon. The soup thickened with slurry and that has become the mainstream of what Sara Udon is nowadays.

    These days you can find Sara Udon being served with two different styles of noodles. The first style is similar to Cantonese-style crispy chow mein (or more notably Hong Kong Crispy Chow Mein) where thin egg noodles are fried in oil till crispy. The second style uses thicker Chinese noodles that are pan-fried like Chanpon noodles. Both are common in Nagasaki, but Sara Udon outside of Nagasaki area mostly uses thin crispy noodles.

    A white bowl containing Crispy Noodles with Seafood (Sara Udon).

    Key Ingredients to Make Sara Udon

    1. Crispy Noodles

    Where to find crispy noodles? I found this Nagasaki Sara Udon package in my local Japanese grocery store Nijiya Market and I use only the noodles and skip the soup base. If you don’t have a Japanese market nearby, you can visit a Chinese grocery store and look for crispy noodles in a bag.

    Sara Udon Package
    Crispy noodles in Sara Udon package

    If you prefer to make your own, you can deep fry or pan fry the Hong Kong noodles in your wok.

    2. Your Choice of Seafood, Pork, and Vegetables

    I have included most of the ingredients that come with Sara Udon in this recipe. They are:

    • Pork belly slices (no, it’s not bacon. It’s the pork cut used for making bacon. You can find it in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or Mexican grocery stores. If they only sell a block of pork belly, slice your own following my tutorial).
    • Shrimp
    • Squid
    • Clams (I skipped them in this recipe since it takes time to de-grit clams)
    • Kamaboko fish cakes
    • Quail eggs
    • Onion
    • Carrot
    • Cabbage
    • Bean sprout
    • Snow peas
    • Wood ear mushrooms

    This may look like a daunting list of ingredients, so you can certainly simplify the ingredients or switch things up with whatever you have on hand.

    3. Chicken Stock/Broth Base Soup 

    The soup base is chicken stock/broth. You can use homemade chicken stock if you have it around (Here’s my chicken stock recipe), or use packaged chicken stock. Each package comes with different saltiness so please adjust the soup base accordingly. It’s important to keep a spoon around and always taste before you finish cooking!

    To make a vegetarian or vegan-friendly version of Sara Udon, please use a vegetable broth and “Vegetarian Mushroom Flavored Stir-Fry Sauce” instead of oyster sauce. For protein, you can easily use deep-fried tofu or pan-fried tofu in place of seafood.

    A white bowl containing Crispy Noodles with Seafood (Sara Udon).

    Sara Udon on Kodoku no Gurume

    I was inspired to make this noodle recipe after watching the popular Japanese TV drama – Kodoku no Gurume (孤独のグルメ) [Season 6: Episode 7]. The protagonist Gorō-san had a bowl of Sara Udon at Nagasaki Hanten (長崎飯店) in Shibuya. It was exactly the noodles I used to order at Chinese restaurants growing up. So I got to share my version of this recipe!

    For those of you who are not familiar with Kodoku no Gurume, the main character Gorō is a Japanese salaryman who is in sales. As a salesperson, Gorō travels across Japan for his work and on each business trip he visits various restaurants and street booths to sample the local cuisine. Each chapter features a different place and dish.

    Kodoku no Gurume 6

    This TV drama has been around for years in Japan, and currently, Season 7 is on air. Unfortunately, it is not available on Netflix like Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories here in the States, but it’s available on Netflix Japan and other sources. Maybe Netflix USA will pick it up if there’s enough interest in the drama. You can find some of the older seasons available in DVD format on Amazon.

    Whether you have access to Kodoku no Gurume or not, I want to share all the delicious foods the main character Gorō-san enjoyed in the show and I hope you would join me in cooking up these dishes.

    Kodoku no Gurume Recipes Series on Just One Cookbook 

    A white bowl containing Crispy Noodles with Seafood (Sara Udon).

    Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

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    5 from 6 votes
    A white bowl containing Crispy Noodles with Seafood (Sara Udon).
    Sara Udon
    Prep Time
    15 mins
    Cook Time
    20 mins
    Total Time
    35 mins

    Sara Udon is a Japanese take on the popular Chinese crispy noodles with saucy seafood and vegetables. Skip take-out and recreate this noodle dish at home!

    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: crispy noodles
    Servings: 2 people
    Author: Namiko Chen
    • 4 oz sliced pork belly
    • 2 oz shrimp
    • 1.6 oz squid
    • 3 tsp sake (1 tsp each for pork, shrimp, and squid)
    • 1 tsp soy sauce (for pork)
    • 2 Tbsp dried wood ear mushrooms
    • 6 quail eggs
    • 1 oz kamaboko (fish cake) (⅓ block)
    • ¼ onion
    • 2 inches carrot
    • 3 leaves napa cabbage
    • 2 shiitake mushrooms
    • 4 snow peas
    • 1 Tbsp sesame oil (roasted) (for cooking)
    • 4 oz bean sprouts
    • tsp white pepper powder
    • 2 tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt) (adjust based on ingredients and chicken stock so taste before adding salt)
    To serve
    1. Gather all the ingredients.
      Sara Udon Ingredients
    To Make the Sauce
    1. Combine 1 ½ cup chicken broth, 1 Tbsp oyster sauce, ½ Tbsp soy sauce, and 2 tsp sugar. Mix all together well.
      Sara Udon 1
    To Prepare Ingredients
    1. Add 1 tsp sake to pork, shrimp, and squid to remove any unwanted odor.

      Sara Udon 2
    2. Add 1 tsp soy sauce to the pork, combine well, and set aside.

      Sara Udon 3
    3. Rehydrate the dried wood ear mushrooms and cut into smaller pieces.
      Sara Udon 4
    4. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Take out the quail eggs from the refrigerator and carefully place in the boiling water. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 3 minutes.

      Sara Udon 5
    5. Once they are finished cooking, place the quail eggs in iced water. Once cool, remove the shell.

      Sara Udon 6
    6. Score the squid in the crisscross pattern by making parallel diagonal lines. Make sure not to cut it all the way through. Thinly slice the kamaboko fish cake.
      Sara Udon 7
    7. Cut the onion into wedges and then cut in half widthwise.

      Sara Udon 8
    8. Thinly slice the carrot into slabs. Then cut them in half lengthwise.

      Sara Udon 9
    9. Cut the napa cabbage into roughly 2 inch pieces widthwise and then cut them in half lengthwise.
      Sara Udon 10
    10. Remove the stems of shiitake mushrooms and slice the caps.
      Sara Udon 11
    11. Remove the strings from snow peas and cut in half.
      Sara Udon 12
    12. To make the slurry, in a small bowl combine 6 Tbsp water (make sure it’s not warm/hot water) and 2 Tbsp potato/corn starch and whisk well together.
      Sara Udon 13
    13. Carefully loosen the crispy noodles on the plates.
      Sara Udon 14
    To Stir Fry
    1. Heat the wok on medium-high. Once the wok is hot, add 1 Tbsp sesame oil and the pork.
      Sara Udon 15
    2. Separate the pork and add the shrimp and squid. Stir to combine.

      Sara Udon 16
    3. When the meat is no longer pink, add the onion. Stir well until coated with oil.

      Sara Udon 17
    4. Add the hard bottom part of napa cabbage and wood ear mushrooms.
      Sara Udon 18
    5. Add the carrot, leafy parts of napa cabbage, and bean sprouts.
      Sara Udon 19
    6. Add the shiitake mushrooms, kamaboko fish cakes, and snow peas.
      Sara Udon 20
    7. Add the soup into the wok and mix well. Add the quail eggs.

      Sara Udon 21
    8. Season with ⅛ tsp white pepper and 2 tsp kosher. Taste the soup to make sure the flavor is good.

      Sara Udon 22
    9. Whisk the slurry one more time and add to the wok. Mix well.

      Sara Udon 23
    10. Pour over the crispy noodles and serve with karashi mustard and rice vinegar on the side. You can a tiny dab the mustard on noodles (you don't have to mix it) if you like. When you feel a bit bored with the same flavor, drizzle some vinegar for a change (that's how the TV show shared how to eat this dish). Enjoy! 

      Sara Udon 24
    To Store
    1. Unfortunately, the noodles will not stay crispy. Either you keep the toppings separate from the crispy noodles, or you enjoy the softened noodles as they are. You can keep in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for a month.

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