How to make Kimchi Udon, 김치 우동
I like udon, and so do most Koreans.
If you drive on the freeways in Korea, you will find many rest areas along the road. Most of them have food stalls where you can purchase quick meals and snacks. This Kimchi Udon (김치우동) is one of the most popular items on the menu. Feeding yourself a bowl of hot udon in the middle of a long winter journey? I call it ‘Kimchi Udon Soup for the Soul’.
I miss the simple bowls of udon you can buy at these food stalls. I even miss hearing the loud slurping noises from the strangers sitting next to me.
I miss the combination of flavor of dashi and of a pungent bite of kimchi.
I miss hearing the kitchen ladies in the food stall yelling at the customers to hurry up and pick up their noodles…“아줌마, 우동나왔어요! ( Lady, come and get your udon!)”
I used to eat Kimchi Udon quite often as I was growing up, especially during the colder months.
When the icy ocean wind of the cold winter blows at your cheeks like a knife and your nose turns its shade to the one like Rudolph’s, there's nothing like slurping hot noodle soup at the street vendors or in the market squares. It immediately warms your near-frozen body. There is no spoon. Only a pair of chopsticks is all you need. You just gulp the broth directly out of the bowl as you enjoy the noodles. Comfort food like this…it comes closer to your heart.
Making this Kimchi Udon is not that difficult. Get the delicious broth (dashi) ready, and then everything else is a snap to put together. This is a Japanese-Korean fusion comfort food at its best.
These are Bonito flakes. Feather thin Japanese sardine/tuna-type fish flakes to make dashi (broth). It is also called Katsuobushi (かつおぶし). If you don’t have bonito, use large dried anchovies.
In a pot, pour water and add bonito, dried sea kelp (Kombu), and Asian leek (or onion). Bring them to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
You will get a flavorful dashi. Reserve the broth and discard the rest.
Season with Tsuyu (Japanese soup or dipping sauce). I only used 2 tbsp and added salt to season the broth because I didn’t want my dashi to be too dark. You can add more if you wish.
Beautiful dashi is ready. Keep it warm until ready to use.
Most important topping for this udon - the fermented kimchi! Combine chopped kimchi, Korean chili flakes, and kimchi juice in a skillet.
Cook together over medium to med-low until soft, about 3-4 minutes.
Prepare roasted seasoned seaweed (Korean), fried bean curd, and some Asian leeks for topping, too. Fish cakes and enoki mushrooms are good additions.
Cook udon noodles in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then strain. Place noodles in a serving bowl, and pour your beautiful hot dashi on top.
And place your choice of toppings on the noodles and sprinkle black pepper. That’s all!
It is almost impossible to eat udon without making the loud slurping noise.
And I think it's very excusable. Hope you enjoy!
- 2 handful of Bonito or 8-10 large dried anchovies
- 1 large piece dried sea kelp, kombu
- 1 leek, sliced
- 8 cups water
- 2-3 tablespoon Tsuyu or soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon salt (or more)
- 1 cup chopped fermented cabbage kimchi
- 1/4 cup kimchi juice
- 2 teaspoon Korean chili flakes
- 2 handful roasted seaweed, sliced
- 1/2 cup fried bean curd, sliced
- 2 green onion, sliced
- 4 packages Udon noodles
- In a large pot put bonito, sea kelp, leek and pour 8 cups of water. Bring to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Drain the broth to reserve and discard the rest. Season with Tsuyu and salt. Adjust seasoning to your taste. Keep the broth warm.
- Meanwhile, combine kimchi, kimchi juice, and chili flakes in a small skillet. Cook over medium to med-low heat for 3- minutes until tender.
- Cook udon noodles in the boiling water for 2 minutes or follow the package direction.
- Place each serving amount of noodles in a bowl and pour the broth over to immerse the noodles. Top with each topping over the noodles. Serve hot.