Curry Udon is one of those comfort foods I turn to again and again, and this recipe is my favorite quick way to make it!
Sometimes I can’t help but feel like Curry Udon is one the most underrated Japanese ramen or udon dishes out there. I suppose I understand why it spends a little less time in the spotlight compared to the likes of miso and tonkotsu ramen. Most traditional Japanese noodle dishes are a time-consuming art form that requires a different level of appreciation and effort. In the case of Curry Udon however, there’s an instantaneous element to it. It’s not quite from the box, but it’s also not quite from scratch either. In the end, it’s something that’s more accessible to most of us who just want to make a Japanese noodle dish at home without putting as much devotion in the hours and hours of boiling broth.
This recipe from Just One Cookbook works like a charm. I did some tweaks but it stays true to the original recipe, because in my opinion, this is the kind of recipe you need to have in your repertoire. It’s great for days when you want something easy but tasty at the same time. It’s one of those recipes that can produce a restaurant quality dish without extra chef skills required. As long as you have good Japanese curry blocks in your pantry, everything else is easy.
It’s well documented that I love Asian noodle soups. The particular thing I love about Curry Udon is how it always feels like a warm spice-filled hug when I eat it. It’s comforting and full of flavor, and I just love how the curry soup coats those fat strands of udon. Udon goes particularly well with curry, because the thick noodles manage to balance out any possible overload of curry flavor. There’s also more real estate for the soup to cling to. I never walk away dissatisfied from a bowl of udon, and that’s especially true when it comes to this Curry Udon recipe. I truly love it!
- PICK YOUR CURRY BLOCKS. The thing that will make or break this Curry Udon dish is your curry roux, so make sure to use the brand you like or a brand that’s reputable. I personally recommend Glico‘s Zeppin curry blocks. It’s your regular curry block with extra oomph because it has this extra curry gel filling inside. I usually get the mild spicy variant because one of my brothers cannot handle spicy, then just add chili powder right into my own bowl. Each box contains 8 blocks.
- USE A FLAVORFUL BROTH. When I make a big batch of curry udon, I usually use a combination of hon tsuyu (liquid broth concentrate) and powdered instant dashi for the broth. Hon tsuyu has a nicer flavor hands down, so use that if you can. 1/2 cup mentsuyu for every 2 cups water is a good ratio, but because I don’t want to go through my bottle of hon tsuyu too quickly I use a combination. Whichever instant broth you use, just follow instructions on the label and it should be fine.
- MELT YOUR CURRY BLOCKS PROPERLY. Do not to melt your curry blocks directly inside the pot to ensure you don’t leave any unmelted bits at the bottom. (That’s the worst!) You can either scoop out some soup in a ladle or ladle out soup into a small bowl, then melt your curry blocks separately in the small portion of hot soup before pouring the curry all back in. Make sure everything is melted and smooth before you do. This will ensure an even soup base minus any possible curry chunks.
- NOTES ON ADD-ONS. I prefer to use beef in my curry udon but you can use pork or chicken or whatever meat you like. I just feel that beef strips go best with the curry soup flavor-wise. You can also add other veggies if you like, but I generally like carrots with my curry. Dump your veggies during the last step of cooking, alongside the carrots.
- FRESH UDON IS BEST. Because I don’t have access to the truly freshly made udon, I prefer to use the vacuum-sealed version for all udon dishes. Cook in boiling water for just 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your desired hardness. Just do not overcook so it doesn’t get soggy. I personally like my noodles a little hard so I cook around 3 minutes only.
- SIMMER FOR FLAVOR. Give your soup a chance to develop flavors by simmering it a last time once all of your soup ingredients are inside the pot. Make sure to mix every once in a while, stirring the bottom as well, to avoid burning the soup.
- MAKE AS MUCH AS YOU LIKE! Original recipe is for 2 servings. I always make 4 and never have to deal with leftovers. Feel free to scale down or up.
Curry Udon カレーうどん
- 2 Tablespoons oil
- 1 large brown onion, thinly sliced
- 350 grams thinly sliced meat of choice, I like to use sukiyaki beef cut, cut into 3-inch pieces
- 6 cups 720 mL dashi stock*
- 2 Tablespoons sake
- 4 blocks Japanese curry roux, I like to use Glico’s Zeppin blocks
- 2 carrots, sliced into desired chunks
- 4 servings udon, I like to use vacuum packed pre-cooked udon
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- Salt, if needed
- 2 pieces green onion, thinly sliced
- Chili flakes, optional
- In a medium-sized heavy-bottom pot set over medium high heat, heat oil. Sauté onions until soft and aromatic, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the meat and stir-fry until almost cooked through.
- Add in the dashi stock and sake, then mix briefly. Reduce heat to medium-low and bring to a simmer. Once the stock is simmering, skim off the scum and fat that have risen on the surface. As you do, let the soup continue simmering a total of 5 minutes more.
- Briefly turn off the heat at this point and scoop some hot soup into a large ladle. Melt curry blocks in the ladled soup until completely dissolved. This procedure is to make sure you don’t get any undissolved chunks of curry in the soup while eating. It’s best to replace the soup in the ladle before melting every new block of curry so it’ll be hot enough. Taste if the curry flavor is enough for you, otherwise add ½ to 1 more block of curry.
- Turn the heat back on to medium and add the carrots into the soup. Gently simmer the soup for an extra 10 minutes to develop flavors, stirring every once in a while to make sure it does not get burnt at the bottom. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil for the udon. Cook udon according to package instructions then drain well.
- Turn off the heat and mix the soy sauce into the soup. Taste and season with salt if needed. If the udon is not yet ready, cover the pot of soup in the meantime. Otherwise, divide the udon into 4 serving bowls, then ladle in the curry soup. Make sure to properly divide the meat among the bowls. Sprinkle with green onions, then add chili flakes if desired.
- Enjoy immediately!
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