Friday, 5 June 2015

Home-Cooked: Udon Noodle Soup (Hoto-Noodle Inspired)

Hi there. Wow. Yet another few months have passed by just like that! I'm just in a semi-tired happy state now after being up all night last night on a relatively decent night shift. My body just is not made for shift work. But at least it's just a temporary 6 week rotation that I am going through. After that, back to comparatively regular programming hours.

The one thing that I don't mind about shift work though is the free time during unexpected hours. For example, yesterday my shift only started at 10pm so I had pretty much the entire day before the trepidation and dread set in around 7pm/dinner time. ;p Still quite decent because the morning and afternoon I was able to do a whole bunch of things. For example, cooking this Hoto-Noodle Inspired dish.

I was totally inspired to cook this after watching an episode of the awesome Cooking With Dog, a fantastic youtube channel to learn how to cook Japanese cuisine, hosted by this really cute poodle and 'his assistant' who looks like a typical Japanese homemaker with rad cooking skills! :D The explanations are very easy to follow and he/it explains it in such a step-by-step manner you can totally cook while playing this video.

I love how this dish is totally vegetarian and you can pretty much use this technique to make an easy soup stock to go with noodles if you're hungry at night. There was one time after a late night shift at 1am when I just wanted some noodles but didn't know quite how to make a decent noodle broth. Of course, it would be much faster and easier if you actually had dashi stock on hand in the fridge which seems like something Japanese families might do if they cook Japanese dishes on a daily basis. Something to consider! :)

Just a bit of background to this Hoto-Noodle dish:

- it's basically Hoto noodles + vegetables + miso soup
- the noodles don't need to be parboiled; they are boiled raw along with the other ingredients
- according to Wiki (our best friend after Google), the best taste is thought to be brought out by boiling pumpkin in the miso soup! So this would be a key ingredient
- Hoto is like a variant of your typical Udon (flatter and wider it seems, almost like the Chinese Ban Mian).

Ok, so here goes:

 photo udon noodlessmaller_zpsngavawyg.jpg

Udon Soup Noodles (Hoto noodles-inspired)

(I would say this is good enough for 2 really hungry Asian peeps who want to use the dish as the main course for the meal. Or good for 3 moderately hungry Asian peeps who want to use the dish more as a side dish to accompany their main course)

Ingredients: (the amount of the vegetables is really up to you! I just sort of put in whatever I thought I would eat :))

For the noodles and broth:

- 6 oz of udon noodles
- 40 g of Niboshi (dried baby sardines)(i bought mine from Meidiya) (I took this to be the net weight after de-gutting/beheading them)
- 4g of Kombu Seaweed
- 1 tbsp of Miso (or to taste)
- 900ml or 3.8 cups of water

For the vegetables:

- 1 carrot
- 150 g of Kabocha squash (or any type of sweet squash)
- 1 oz of leafy green vegetable (I ended up using Malaysian spinach because it happened to be much cheaper than the Japanese air-flown Komatsuna spinach) ;p
- 1 oz of mushrooms - Shimeji/Maitake recommended but I just used sliced button mushrooms
- 50g of cabbage
- 1 stalk of leek
- 1/2 a block of Atsu-age (fried tofu)

If you want to be more faithful to the dish, here are the ingredients they had recommended:
- 1 daikon radish
- 2 oz of Komastuna Spinach
- 1/2 Abura-age (thin deep fried tofu)


To prepare the broth:

1. Remove the head and stomach of the Niboshi. This helps to reduce the bitterness that you get from boiling it in the soup.

I just sort of approximated the amount of head/gut to remove by watching the video. I might not have removed enough of the head/gut because immediately after boiling, my stock did have a definite bitterness to it. But at the end with all the vegetables and the addition of miso, I couldn't taste it at all. So it's worth to wait till the end too for the final flavour. :)

2. Pour the water into a cooking pot and put in the Niboshi and your kombu seaweed. Leave the niboshi and kombu seaweed in to soak for about 30min.

3. Heat the water till a boil on medium low heat. When it begins to boil, remove the foam that appears on the surface with a mesh strainer.

4. Simmer dashi stock for 4-5minutes

5. Remove the kombu seaweed (cut it up into tiny strips to be used later as one of the veggie ingredients)

6. Strain the stock into another cooking pot with a mesh strainer to remove the sardines.

To prepare the veggies:

1. Slice your carrots into quarter-moons (they do look prettier!)

2. Remove excess oil from the Atsuage with a paper towel. Slice into 1-2cm strips.

3. Remove the extreme end of stem of your spinach/whatever green leafy veggie you have. Cut into 1.5 inch pieces.

4. Slice the leeks diagonally into 1-2cm thick slices.

5. Slice your kabocha pumkin into 1.5 inch pieces (this always requires an insane amount of energy and a really sharp knife)

6. Cut the cabbge into 1.5 inch pieces.

To cook the dish:

Add the carrots, atsuage, mushrooms, and kombu into the stock.

Heat up the soup to a boil. Remove any foam that forms.

Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Add in the kabocha. Submerge it into the soup. Bring to a boil.
Then reduce heat to low and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Add in the leek, and the rest of the vegetables.

Simmer for 2 more minutes.

Ladle the dashi stock into a bowl to loosen up your miso. Then put the miso into the soup and distribute evenly.

If you do actually have Hoto noodles, you're supposed to cook them along with the veggies so refer to the video to know when to put it in.

Cook udon noodles as instructed on your udon noodle package (mine was 6 minutes in 1 L of boiling water for one helping).

For my udon noodles, I actually cooked them separately then put the noodles into the hot veggie soup at the end.



Seriously, it's actually an easy dish at the end of the day. I love how you can be creative with what you throw inside so that solves leftovers to a large extent. Plus, you definitely feel healthier after that. :) Cos it was all the good stuff.

Have been doing the occasional cooking whenever I have the morning/afternoon off due to weird work hours and there are so many recipes to share! :) Moaarrr soon. Promise.