What are Udon Noodles?
Udon (うどん) is a type of thick noodles made with three simple ingredients of wheat flour, water and salt. Recognized for its chewy texture and white appearance, udon noodles can be served in a hot broth as a noodle soup, or in a thick curry sauce or enjoyed cold with a dipping sauce.
Udon noodles have a mild flavor with a springy, doughy texture, which makes it a versatile noodle to cook with. Although udon is much thicker than other noodles, it is gentle on the stomach and goes down the throat smoothly. A high quality udon should be smooth yet has a bouncy and elastic character to the noodles.
Because of its mild flavor and ability to complement other flavors, udon can be enjoyed in the countless ways. Be it a simple broth, light dressing, spicy curry sauce or a western-style gravy, udon is delicious no matter how you prepare it.
Origin of udon noodles
Just like soba noodles, udon came to Japan from China around the Nara period. Records show that it was first made in the shape of a slightly flattened rice cake and was a high-class food enjoyed only by the elites. It was only later in the Edo period where the elongated shape was invented and started to spread out and enjoyed by the common people.
Famous Regional Udon – Sanuki Udon from Kagawa Prefecture
Known as the Capital of Udon, Kagawa prefecture is most famous for its Sanuki udon (the old name of Kagawa). The noodles are handmade with high-quality wheat from the region and are prepared with the well-preserved method that has been passed down for many generations.
Described for having koshi, or a good bite, people from all over Japan visit Kagawa just to sample a bowl of their famed sanuki udon. In Kagawa alone, you can find over 900 udon shops offering a myriad of udon to compete for your appetite. If you get a chance to visit the region, it is definitely worth paying a pilgrimage to this Udon prefecture.
Where to buy udon noodles?
Udon noodles are sold dried, fresh or frozen at Japanese and many Asian grocery stores. You can also find them at major American grocery stores these days. The dried noodles are a convenient choice, but the fresh options have the best texture. Our recommended brand of udon noodles is the frozen package called “Sanuki Udon”. You can purchase it in the freezer section of Japanese supermarkets as well as some Asian supermarkets or online.
How to make udon noodles from scratch
Do you know udon noodles is one of the easiest Japanese noodles to make at home? All you need is flour, water, and salt. For my homemade udon noodle recipe, click here. I colored the noodles with beet juice to make it pink for Valentine’s Day challenge but my recipe also shows you how to make the regular white udon noodles.
Recipes Using Udon Noodles
Here are just some of delicious udon noodle recipes you want to make at home: