Dec 13
2011
Comforting Nabeyaki Udon

Nabeyaki udon is one of my all-time favorite Japanese dishes.  It’s a soup made with thick chewy udon noodles, vegetables, and a variety of toppings, depending on where you get it, from a poached egg to tempura shrimp, or kamaboko (fish cake) and chicken.  Mr. Fuji and I have a favorite restaurant in Tokyo that serves huge steaming bowls of udon, and I always order nabeyaki udon.  But before I share my recipe for nabeyaki udon with you, some background on why I’m sharing it with you!

Last month I had the privilege of speaking at a conference presented by the Asia Society Southern California called Japan Rising.  The conference was incredible, filled with amazing speakers and tons of information.

Japan Rising Conference

I was on a panel that spoke on the topic of Japan’s influence on food, fashion, film, and fusion.  The moderator, Paul Whitney, is the Vice President of Japan Publicity, an international marketing firm that works with Japanese and American businesses.  The three other panelists were: Masashi Niwano, the Festival & Exhibition Director for the Center for Asian American Media and a filmmaker who has had one of his films shown at the Cannes Film Festival.  Sharon Sadako Takeda, a Senior Curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)Cristina Vee, an actress and singer known for her work in animation and video games.  I think the five of us could do an entire conference ourselves—we had so much to talk about!

Food, Fashion, Film & Fusion Panel

The day ended with a fun reception where we were entertained by a variety of performances and activities, including Taikoproject

Taikoproject

and Shinobu Ichiyanagi, a candy artist who was mesmerizing to watch as he turned molten sugar into fantastical creations.

Shinobu Ichiyanagi, Candy Artist

I came away from the conference feeling grateful for my time in Japan, and even more inspired to share my love of the country, its people, and culture with you!  One of the reoccurring topics during the conference was the concept of “Cool Japan.”  Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) currently has a campaign called Cool Japan to promote the “hidden gems” of Japan that Americans may not be familiar with.  In light of the earthquake and tsunami devastation of 3/11, this concept is becoming increasingly more important as a way of boosting interest in and travel to Japan to bring economic growth and support to the country as it rebuilds.

Nabe, Japanese clay pot

With that in mind, let’s turn back to nabeyaki udon.  Nabemono are hearty wintertime one pot meals cooked in clay or cast iron pots, and in my opinion, one of the gems of Japan that more Americans need to know about.  I’ve shared a recipe for tori no mizutaki, one type of nabemono, but now it’s time for us to explore all that the world of nabemono has to offer!

Fresh Udon Noodles

These dishes are easy to make, filling, and delicious.  A bowl of chewy udon noodles, chicken, and noodles grabs at me just like a bowl of my mom’s chicken noodle soup.  It’s hard to stop at just one bowl.  My version of nabeyaki udon is simple, but you can add any additional toppings that suit your fancy.  Tempura shrimp anyone?

Nabeyaki Udon

Print This Recipe

Nabeyaki Udon

Makes 5 servings

6 ounces fresh spinach leaves
6 cups dashi (basic Japanese sea stock)
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin
1 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 leeks, cleaned and cut into 1-inch slices on the diagonal
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
21 ounces fresh udon noodles
5 large eggs

1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and cook the spinach for one minute. Quickly drain the spinach and plunge it into a bowl of cold water. Drain and rinse with cold water until the spinach is completely cold. Squeeze out the water, then cut into 1-inch lengths. Set aside.

2. Mix the dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and salt together in a 4-quart saucepan, then stir in the garlic and ginger. Add the sliced carrots and leeks, then bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat.

3. Add the chicken and simmer until just cooked through, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the udon noodles and place the spinach in 5 small bundles on the top. Simmer for 3 minutes.

5. Gently crack the eggs, one at a time, into the soup. Cover the pot with a lid, and let simmer for 3 minutes, then turn off the heat and let sit to allow the eggs to finish cooking.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Yuri - Chef Pandita December 13, 2011 at 10:30 am

Ahhhh I love Japan <3

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the wicked noodle December 13, 2011 at 10:31 am

I am so in the mood for Japanese food! This looks soooo good. It’s one of my favorite dishes, too!

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LiztheChef December 13, 2011 at 10:48 am

Beautiful photos, a rich post and a keeper of a recipe – thank you!

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Katherine December 13, 2011 at 12:31 pm

My mouth is watering… You make your own dashi, is that right? And it’s made from kombu? Can I order it online?

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Chung-Ah @ Damn Delicious December 13, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Every time my family and I went out to a Japanese restaurant, we would always order nabeyaki udon so I always associated this dish as one of those things that you could only get at a restaurant. But wow, I can’t believe this can actually be made at home with fresh, simple ingredients!

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Fuji Nana December 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Absolutely PERFECT food for a December day, even in Southern California (which has NOT been sunny this week). My next grocery trip is going to include some fresh udon noodles. Does Albertson’s sell those?

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Megan December 13, 2011 at 5:00 pm

I had to comment. I haven’t commented for soooooo long!
Thank you for sharing more about what you have been up to in relation to Japan. What is is that gets inside us about Japan and won’t stop calling to us?
I was wondering what to make for dinner. Since returning a month and a half ago I have mostly cooked Japanese dinners, much to Peter’s delight.
This looks like one he will love and nice and easy for me too.
Thanks you LFM and blessings for the festive season :-)

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Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence December 14, 2011 at 11:18 am

Mmm that noodle bowl looks so good right now. Sounds like it was a fun conference too. I would have loved to see that candy artists. Looks like a real master at work!

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) December 14, 2011 at 11:50 am

@LiztheChef — Thank you for your sweet words! I hope you love the recipe. :)

@Katherine — Yes, I make my own dashi, though you can buy instant dashi granules as well. You can find all of the ingredients on-line (try amazon.com!). Here is my dashi recipe: http://www.lafujimama.com/2010/01/how-to-make-dashi/

@Chung-Ah — Yay! Now I can’t wait to hear if you try making it yourself! :)

@Fuji Nana — Yes, our Albertson’s does! I believe most of the big chains do now. You’ll find them in the refrigerator section, usually next to where they keep the wonton wrappers, etc.

@Megan — SO NICE to “hear” from you! I hope you love the recipe! XO

@Brandon — Thanks! Yes, he was absolutely incredible!

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stephanie December 14, 2011 at 11:57 am

That Udon looks amazing – and with winter on the way, I know I’ll be having udon a lot more!

Thanks also for sharing your experience on the panel. I’ve always been fascinated with Japanese culture (as a child, I had lots of Sanrio and Monchichi toys) and their food. I was so excited to be able to spend a few days in Tokyo last November (waaay too short but our main trip was to Hong Kong!) and even though we crammed a lot into our short stay, there was still so much to see and eat that we are already talking about going back for a longer visit.

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Erina December 14, 2011 at 6:12 pm

I love nabeyaki udon!! It’s just so comforting especially on a cold day. Thanks for sharing about the event! Do I see the moss burger advertizement there? Moss is my favorite burger shop in Japan. Now I’m craving their rice burgers… Ah. I wish I could go back for the new year and enjoy osechi there…

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Megan December 14, 2011 at 10:29 pm

It was delicious!
Peter’s words ‘bloody deluxe’ (excuse the language) :-)

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Megan December 14, 2011 at 10:30 pm

It was delicious!
Peter’s words ‘bloody deluxe’ (excuse the language) :-)
Oishikatta desu!

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Katherine December 15, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Thanks for the link, Rachael!

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Jim Price December 17, 2011 at 7:26 pm

What is dash?

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Urban Wife December 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm

1. That candy artist is amazing!!
2. Gorgeous soup bowl.
3. I must find the courage to venture out of my ‘cooking comfort zone’ and make this soup.

Thanks for sharing!

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) December 19, 2011 at 4:12 pm

@Erina– Yep, Moss Burger!!

@Megan– Tell Peter “arigato!” for me! XO

@Jim Price– Dashi is a basic Japanese sea stock (recipe: http://www.lafujimama.com/2010/01/how-to-make-dashi/). However, you could always substitute chicken or vegetable stock, though you will get a slightly different flavor.

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Chad September 4, 2012 at 11:53 am

I can’t seem to find fresh udon noodles where i live and from what i hear, there is a big difference in fresh and dried. My local Asian grocery store only carries the dry straight pack of udon noodles and a pack of what seems to be pre-cooked and vacuum sealed udon noodles that resemble the ones in your photograph but they are not frozen or refrigerated. Do you have any advice on which to get? Your recipe looks amazing by the way! I’ve recently been trying to cook Japanese recipes at home and your website has helped me tremendously. Thanks!

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) September 20, 2012 at 10:09 am

@Chad — The pre-cooked and vacuum sealed noodles are going to be your best bet. Or you could get adventurous and make your own! http://www.lafujimama.com/2010/06/how-to-make-handmade-udon-noodles-its-easier-than-you-might-think/

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Tai November 2, 2012 at 8:24 pm

This was delicious!
Thank you very much for the recipe.
I have tried this several times in restaurants, but never knew how to make it.

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Megan July 9, 2014 at 5:21 pm

The ginger, is it the pink stuff you get with sushi or the white planty root thing? The sooner, not the later, right?

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