Udon noodles are simply Japanese wheat noodles. They are readily available from supermarkets in dry form, and also from Asian or Japanese grocery stores in frozen form. But did you know you can make it at home quite easily.
Three simple ingredients to make Udon noodles
Making Udon noodles only requires a few ingredients: flour, water, and salt. Also it is quite simple to make. And therefore, it is very important to choose the right ingredients.
Any flour that has protein content between 8-10% is suitable to make Udon noodles. Flour that has less than 8% protein, is good for cooking cakes and pastries but is not good for noodles. I used 9% protein content flour which I bought from a local Japanese grocery store in Brisbane. All purpose flour generally has 10 to 12% so it is good to use.
The tap water in Japan is soft water. So we need to use similar water. I live in Brisbane, Australia and the water is hard in comparison. I used filtered water for this reason. If you don’t have a filter, you can always boil the water and let it cool down.
Salt is added to tighten the gluten and harden the dough. The dough texture and hardness depends on the temperature. In order to maintain a certain level of hardness of the dough, the salt percentage is controlled between 13% (summer) and 10% (winter).
90% of the salt added to make Udon dough will elute into boiling water when the Udon noodle is cooked.
Fun part – making the dough for the udon noodles
So, when you have gathered all the right ingredients, the fun part begins starting with mixing the saltwater and the flour. Add the saltwater to the flour and knead it. And this is the fun part. Put the dough in a ziplock bag and step on it about 50 times!!
50 times only
Although stepping on the dough makes the udon noodle soft and chewy, too many steps makes them too chewy and you may end up having to cook the udon for longer. So the right amount of steps is 50 times.
After the dough has been kneaded it is bouncy and elastic. In this state, it is hard to roll out the dough. So it is necessary to set the dough down for at least 3 hours in order to make the dough soft enough to roll and cut.
Cutting the udon noodles dough
Roll out the dough to about 3mm (0.1 inch) thick and make three accordion folds. Then dust a generous amount of potato starch over it and using a sharp knife, cut the folded dough about 3mm (0.1 inch) from the edge. Udon noodles will absorb water while it is being cooked, so cut it thinner than cooked noodle thickness.
Cooking Udon noodles
It requires 100 g Udon noodles to 1 litre (0.26 gal) of water. There are two reasons for using this large amount of water. 1. Because the salt content will be removed. Remember, 90% of the salt content will dissolve into the cooking water. 2. The udon noodles will not stick together in a lot of hot water.
Two delicious dipping sauces
Freshly made and cooked udon noodles can be served straight with two delicious dippings with Yakumi. In the photo below, the one on the left is soy sauce base and on the right is sesame sauce.
What is Yakumi?
Yakumi is Japanese natural condiments. They help to work up an appetite and also bring extra fragrance to your cooking. By itself, some of Yakumi tend to have a strong pungent smell or taste. Wasabi is a well known Yakumi. My favourite is Shiso leaf and Yuzu. Mitsuba, Myoga, Shoga(ginger) are also Yakumi.
Other recipes that use Udon noodles
How to store?
It is better to cook the noodles when they are freshly made. It can be kept in the fridge for a few hours but if you are not going to eat straight away, cook it and divide into one serve, wrap with cling wrap and place them in a ziplock bag. They will keep for about a month in the freezer. When ready to reuse, put them in boiling water for a minute or so.
Six Tips to make your own delicious noodles
- Use flour that contains between 8-10% protein.
- Use soft water.
- Make salt water percentage 13% in summer, and 10% in winter, spring and autumn in between 10 to 13%.
- Use your heal for kneading. 50 times each and repeat the process 3 times.
- Rest the dough for at least 3 hours before rolling and cutting
- Cook noodles in plenty of boiling water.
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- 15 g salt
- 140 ml water
- 300 g all purpose flour
- generous amount of corn or potato starch to dust the dough
soy sauce dipping sauce
- 1/4 cup dashi stock *7
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin *8
sesame seed dipping sauce
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup dashi stock
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- Dissolve salt into a jug of water.
- Place all purpose flour in a large bowl. Add the salty water gradually to combine with flour by using your finger or chopsticks. *1
- Try not to knead at this stage, rather making cramble like texture.
- After all water added, Keane them all together and make an large bowl shaped dough.
- Place the dough into a large ziplock bag and seal the bag. *2
- Kneading by stepping on the dough 50 times. *3
- Open the bag and fold them, re-seal the bag and stepping on 50 times again.
- Repeat this process three times.
- After three times take the dough out and shape into neat round ball. It should shiny and smooth.
- Leave it for at least 3 hours in room temperature.
- After three hours resting, take the dough out of the bag. Dust rolling board with corn starch or potato starch and place the dough over. *4
- Roll the dough out with a rolling pin from the centre to outer.
- The thickness of the dough should be 3mm(0.1 inch) thick.
- Then do accordion fold( dust enough amount of corn or potato starch the fold), and cut it with a sharp knife about 3mm(0.1 inch) thick from an edge. *5
- This recipe should make 4 serves of Udon noodles.
- Boil water in large pot and cook udon noodles for about 10 to 12 minutes. *6
- drain the cooking water using a strainer, and rinse the cooked noodles under running water.
- Remove excess water off and serve with a bowl of dipping sauce and yakumi of your choice.
Soy sauce dipping sauce
- Place all ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to boil over medium -high heat.
- Turn the heat off and cool it down.
sesame seed dipping sauce
- Grind the white sesame seeds.
- Place Dashi, soy sauce and mirin in a small sauce pan. Bring it to boil and turn the heat off.
- Add the soy sauce mixture into the grinder sesame seeds gradually to combine.