Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hand-made udon 手打ち煮込みうどん

This is hand-made (home-made) udon but I did not make the udon. It was made by Chef Masaya Kitayama of Sushi Taro . I am just showcasing his contribution. We had another extraordinary "omakase" dinner at Sushi Taro. Although everything was excellent as usual, there were a number of "stand-outs" such as grilled "shirako" 白子, grilled bamboo shoot 竹の子, ankimo 鮟肝 (not the usual pre-processed frozen kind I get), bonito tataki 鰹のたたき (done in a special way using fine grained salt), and firefly squid 蛍イカ. It is very nice touch that Masa serves dishes anticipating our preferences--serving just the right amount.  Even though we had pleasantly left hunger well behind by the end of the meal, we asked for one more sushi just for the pleasure of it.  After we finished, Masa said he had a souvenir for us. He brought out a Soba cutting knife, and I said "Hand-made soba" but I was wrong. It was hand-made udon or "teuchi udon" 手打ちうどん. The dough was already rested, folded and ready to be cut. In front of us, he cut the dough into udon noodles. Masa said, he had to try several times to get the right mixture of flours to make a perfect dough. The next evening I made this "nikomi udon" 煮込みうどん with scallion and chicken as a "shime" dish.

Udon: The image below on the left is Masa's teuchi udon before cooking. I cooked it in plenty of boiling water for 10 minutes and washed it in cold running water and drained (right image below).

Chicken: I used two chicken thighs, deboned, skin removed. The chicken had been marinating in sake for a day in the fridge. I cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and dunked them into boiling water for 30 seconds until the surface turned white ("frosting" or shimofuri 霜降り process). I drained and washed in running cold water. All this is to remove any possible strong or gamey taste that the chicken may have or in Japanese culinary parlance, "kusami o toru" 臭みを取る.

Broth: I could have made my own "kaeshi" かえし but I did not. I made dashi broth from a dashi pack. I placed the dashi pack in cold water (about 2 cups) on low-medium flame and continued simmering for 2-3 minutes after it came to gentle boil. I removed the dashi pack and added bottled mentsuyu 麺つゆ (x2 concentrate) tasting and adding until I was satisfied. You could use a combination of mirin, sake and soy sauce instead. Although I did not make home-made "kaeshi", this method produced a very good broth for noodles.

Scallion: I used scallion (3 with some green parts attached) cut the white part into 1 inch length on a slant. I chopped the green parts more finely. 

I added the udon noodles, chicken, and the white part of the scallion to the broth and simmered for 3-4 minutes until the chicken was just done. I added the chopped green parts of the scallion and took the pot off the flame.

I divided the udon into two bowls and garnished with lime zest, thinly shaven and cut into very fine strips (since I did not have "Yuzu" 柚子) and splashed "Yuzu" juice from the bottle (of course, use Yuzu if you have a fresh one). I also sprinkled Japanese 7 flavored red pepper or shichimi tougarashi 七味唐辛子.

Nothing commercially made, either frozen or dried, can come close to Masa's teuchi udon. The texture was so different and nice-it had a satisfying al dente feel but was quite soft at the same time. My contribution was very mild tasting chicken and the broth. The broth was excellent (if I say so myself despite my shortcut way.) We had this as a shime dish and it was a very pleasant extension of the fabulous meal we had the night before. What a satisfying finale. Thank you Masa.

P.S. We ate the remaining udon the next evening (for us, the amount of the Masa's teuchi udon was enough for 4 servings). By my wife's request, I made, fried udon or yakiudon 焼うどん. This time, I made it vegetarian with shimeji and royal trumpet mushrooms, onion, garlic, ginger, and broccolini. I seasoned it with oyster sauce and soy sauce. The garnish is the usual pickled ginger, white sesame seeds and aonori.

No comments: