The famously thick and chewy udon noodle has played a key role in Japanese cuisine since as early as the 9th century. Foodimentary reports that around this time, a Japanese Buddhist priest named Kukai encountered a delicious variety of thick noodle on his travels to China. By emulating the Chinese recipe upon his return to Japan, Kukai popularized wheat flour-based noodles in his home country, where millions of people eat them to this day.
Try your own taste of chewy Japanese udon noodles with one of these 7 irresistible recipes.
1. Spicy Udon Veggie Stir-Fry
In need of a sophisticated and delicious last-minute dinner? Seasons And Suppers has just the solution, offering a spectacular Spicy Udon Vegetable Stir-Fry that requires only 15 minutes in the kitchen. Packed with hearty udon, carrots, onion, spinach, and spices, this dish is a wonderfully satisfying option for vegetarian eaters. Those who prefer a bit of meat in their main course can feel free to boost the protein factor with some chicken, shrimp, or pork. This recipe yields 2 entrée-sized servings.
- 1 tablespoon olive, peanut or vegetable oil
- ½ medium onion, sliced
- 2 carrots, thinly sliced (matchsticked)
- 1 cup green onion (green part only), sliced diagonally
- 3 cups baby spinach
- 2 packages soft (vacuum-packed) udon noodles
- 1 to 2 heaping teaspoon Sambal Oelek
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- Sesame seeds
- Additional sliced green onion
- ¼ cup chopped parsley or cilantro
Directions: Prepare your vegetables and set aside. Mix up the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside. If you like, you can fill a large bowl with hot tap water and add udon noodles to the bowl to soak, so they can be separated before adding to the wok This isn’t necessary though, as you can add fresh udon noodles directly from the package to the wok, if you prefer to skip this step.
In a large frying pan or wok, heat oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Add carrots and cook, stirring for a minute or so. Add onions and cook, stirring, until onions are soft and carrots are tender. Add green onion and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or so.
If soaking udon noodles, gently stir to loosen udon noodles and separate, then drain. Add drained noodles (or unsoaked fresh noodles) to the wok and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or so. Add sauce and cook for another 30 second, stirring to combine well. Scatter baby spinach over top and cook, stirring constantly, until spinach is wilted.
Remove stir fry to a bowl or plate and garnish with sesame seeds, additional sliced green onion and parsley/cilantro.
2. Miso Salmon Udon Bowl
Seafood lovers can satisfy their salmon cravings in a bold new way using this recipe for Miso Salmon Udon. The recipe from Because Food Is Life loads flavorful salmon fillet, noodles, veggies, and a variety of Asian spices into one heaping bowl to create a distinctively-flavored seafood stew that the whole family will love. The recipe requires only 30 minutes in the kitchen and serves 3 to 4 people.
For the marinade:
- 1½ tablespoons miso
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- Juice of ½ a lemon, reserve zest
- Juice of ½ a orange
For the dressing:
- Zest from 1 orange and 1 lemon
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- Juice of ½ a orange
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon chili garlic sauce (optional)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
For the bowl:
- 1 pound salmon fillets
- 8 ounces packet of soba or udon noodles, cooked according to package directions
- 2 avocados, sliced
- 1 (5-ounce) bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced
- Toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the ingredients for the marinade. Pour over top, coating the entire salmon, and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.
For the dressing combine the zest, juice, honey, soy sauce, chili sauce (if using), and sesame oil. Whisk together. Toss with the noodles and set aside.
Cook the salmon at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 10 minutes. Toss the kale with salt and olive oil and cook with the salmon for the last 3 to 4 minutes. Both of these can be done on foil lined baking sheets to avoid additional dishes. The kale should be crispy and beginning to brown/blacken just on the edges.
Place noodles and salmon in a bowl and serve with avocado, kale, green onions, and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Serve immediately.
3. Curried Chicken Skewers Over Udon
Indulge in a taste of curry-infused chicken chunks grilled over noodles and lentils using this recipe from Jane’s Adventures In Dinner. Curry-marinated chicken combines with lentil and snap pea stir-fry with udon to create an exceptional dish, worthy of an upscale Japanese restaurant. This recipe for Curried Chicken Skewers Over Udon yields 4 servings.
- 16 chicken skewers (two large chicken breasts cut into pieces, threaded onto skewers)
- 2 tablespoons curry paste
- 2 chopped garlic cloves
- ¼ cup canola or olive oil
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 chili-garlic sauce
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 tablespoons curry paste
- 3 chopped garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
- ⅓ cup cooked lentils
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- 1½ cup sugar snap peas
- 3 packages udon noodles
Directions: Combine marinade ingredients and slather on your chicken. Let sit a minimum of 20 minutes and cook at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes.
For the stir-fry: Heat oil; add garlic and snap peas. Add in spices and toast for a couple of seconds. Add remaining ingredients. Add or subtract chili-garlic paste and curry to suit your taste. Enjoy!
4. Spicy Miso Stout Udon Noodle Soup
Banish boring old miso soup and opt for a jazzed-up version of the classic using this recipe for Spicy Miso Stout Udon Noodle Soup from The Beeroness. The dish builds upon the flavors of traditional miso soup by adding mushroom, shrimp, udon, and a variety of subtle spices. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Beeroness recipe without throwing in a cold one for good measure: The addition of your favorite stout beer ups the complexity of the dish, making for a memorably palate-pleasing soup.
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
- 2 ounces shiitake mushrooms
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 12 ounces stout beer
- 3 cups chicken broth
- ⅓ cup yellow miso
- 1 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 pound raw shrimp
- 7 ounces Udon noodles
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup chopped green onions
- 8 sheets roasted Nori, chopped
Directions: Heat the sesame oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add the shallots, cook until softened, about five minutes. Add the mushrooms, cook until softened. Stir in the garlic then add the stout beer. Add the chicken broth, miso, garlic chili sauce, fish sauce, and red chili flakes. Bring to a simmer.
Add the shrimp and noodles, simmer until shrimp is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Ladle into bowls, top with cilantro, green onions, and nori.
5. Peanut Udon Noodle Salad
A Dash Of Soul’s Peanut Udon Noodle Salad makes a wonderfully piquant lunch or dinner dish. Nutty peanut butter combines with tart lime juice and the distinctive flavors of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic, and ginger to yield a spectacular Asian-inspired dish that friends and family will adore. The recipe requires about 30 minutes in the kitchen and makes 4 servings.
- 8 ounces whole wheat udon noodles
- ½ cup peanut butter
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ¼ cup warm water
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ginger powder
- ½ cup sliced scallions
- 2 cups diced cucumber
- 1 cup sliced bell peppers
- 2 cups thinly shredded cabbage
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Directions: Boil noodles according to directions.
While noodles cook, whisk together the peanut butter, lime juice, water, liquid aminos, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic powder, and ginger powder until it forms a smooth dressing. It will start out lumpy; keep whisking to smoothen.
Drain the noodles and rise with cold water. Toss the noodles with the dressing, scallions, and vegetables. Refrigerate for for at least 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish if desired.
6. Fried Udon Noodles With Beef
The Tasty Bite Blog offers a spectacular take on Fried Udon Noodles With Beef, also known in Japanese as yakiudon. This comforting classic comes loaded with scallions, bean sprouts, beef chunks, soy sauce, and other traditional Asian flavors, making it a surefire winner among everyone who tries it. This recipe yields 2 servings.
- 2 (8-ounce) packages fresh udon noodles
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
- 8 ounces beef chuck, thinly sliced
- 1 cup napa cabbage, shredded
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 2 stalks scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon mirin
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
Directions: Add udon noodles to a pot of boiling water, and let it separate by themselves (do not stir and try to break apart), about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse well with cold water in a colander. Set aside.
Heat oil in a wok or skillet over high heat, add beef and stir fry until the meat is no longer pink. Transfer to a plate. Add napa cabbage and bean sprouts until the vegetables are wilted. Add udon noodles, scallions, and the rest of the seasonings, and mix well. Return cooked beef to the pan to heat through before serving.
7. Coconut Udon Soup
Pham Fatale’s intensely-spiced Coconut Udon Soup offers your dinner a spicy kick, thanks to the addition of Thai chiles. Miso, veggies, and an array of bold seasonings bring incredible character to the dish, while mildly sweet coconut milk restores balance to create a satisfying dinner option for all. The recipe yields 8 servings.
- 3 kaffir lime leaves, torn into thirds
- 7 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 (12.3-ounce) package fresh firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, lightly toasted
- 1 (6-inch) piece fresh galangal, peeled, thinly sliced and slightly bruised
- 1½ tablespoons miso paste, to taste
- 4 tablespoons canola oil, as needed
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 3 fresh red Thai chiles, stemmed and coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup fried onions
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated palm sugar, to taste
- 1 celery stalk, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 (10-ounce) can straw mushrooms, drained
- 1 (14-ounce) can baby corn, cut on the bias into thirds
- 4 cups bok choy, quartered
- 2 (8.5-ounce) packages unsweetened coconut milk
- 3 small lemons, freshly squeezed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 8 (7-ounce) individual packages fresh udon noodles
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons Thai basil leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
Directions: For the tofu: Drain the liquid from the package of the tofu. Pat the tofu dry with a paper towel. Cut the piece of tofu into ½-inch slices. Heat the canola oil in a large stock pot and pan-fry the slices until slightly golden. Don’t overcook the pieces or they’ll start to get hard. The tofu should still be moist. Transfer all the tofu to a paper towel, leaving as much oil as possible in the pot and let it cool. Once the tofu slices are cool enough to handle, cut them into large cubes. Set aside on a plate.
For the spicy paste: In a mortar and pestle, grind the sesame seeds into a paste. Add the miso, red Thai chiles, 1 kaffir lime leaf, garlic and Thai basil. Coarsely grind the mixture. In the same stockpot, heat the canola oil again. Add the spicy paste and stir for 3 to 4 minutes until fragrant. Transfer to a small bowl, leaving about 2 teaspoons in the pot.
Preparing the vegetables: In the same stockpot, add more oil if necessary, half the amount of galangal, the celery, mushrooms, and corn. Stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Set aside.
For the hot and sour broth: In the same stockpot, add the remaining kaffir lime leaves and galangal. Cook for 2 minutes, then cover with the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes. Strain through a sieve. Discard the solids. Pour the broth back into the pot.
Check the sourness of the broth. Add the lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the reserved spicy paste and fried onions. Taste again. Finish with palm sugar and salt, if necessary. Add the coconut milk. Bring to a near-boil, then add the bok choy. Cook for about 5 minutes. Finish with the mushrooms, celery and corn mixture, the pan-fried tofu, and 1 tablespoon green onions. Set aside.
To assemble: Fill a medium-sized saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add the udon noodles. Using chopsticks, gently separate the noodles and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and set aside. Drizzle with sesame oil.
When you’re ready to serve, bring the soup back to a boil, then add the reserved vegetables. Add cilantro and the rest of the green onions. Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes. Place the cooked udon noodles in each serving bowl and complete with the spicy coconut soup. Garnish with more Thai basil and cilantro. Serve immediately.