Japanese Noodle Soup

(Difficulty:  Very easy)
(Cooking time: 30 minutes)

 

This is for Joelle.

 

I believe any kind of noodle soup is a comfort food.  This is not an exception.  The Japanese style broth is the fastest to make in the world.  I make Eastern style which doesn’t include kelp.  You need to make a trip to a Japanese grocery store only to buy shredded bonito for the broth and you can use whatever is in your fridge to accommodate.

 

You may use any type of noodle for this recipe.  If you can buy fresh Soba or Udon, do use them.  Just like fresh pasta, they are far better than dried noodles.  Cook noodles according to the instructions on the package or to your liking.

 

Other ingredients are better cooked beforehand but not in the broth.  Below is a just example of what many Japanese would make.  You can stretch your imagination and create your own version.  Cooking vegetables and meat in the broth makes the broth not clear.  A raw egg can be added to the soup.  The hot broth will cook the egg.  This is particularly good with Udon.

 

 

3 cups water

1/3 cup of shredded bonito or one package **

1 tablespoon of Japanese soy sauce***

˝ teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of sake

2 teaspoons of Mirin

5 ounces of dry Soba noodles

Recommended vegetables:  Chopped scallion, boiled spinach or other greens, boiled or steamed carrot slices, snow peas, green beans or broccoli, sliced fresh shiitake

Recommended protein:  Blanched chicken meat, boiled eggs, fish pates like Kamaboko or Chikuwa

 

Bring water to boiling and add shredded bonito, cook about 2 – 3 minutes and cover and steep it 5 minutes.  Drain the bonito and keep the broth.  This is the basic broth (Dashi) for any Japanese cooking.  Western style includes kelp from the cold water and the bonito is not cooked as long to keep the kelp from becoming slimy.  Dashi with only bonito is widely used in the Tokyo area and further north.

Add seasoning to the broth.  Taste while you add soy sauce and salt and adjust to your liking.  Noodles should be cooked if using dry ones, drain them then place in a bowl and add the other ingredients. Finally add the hot seasoned broth.  You may add more finely chopped scallion as condiment, pepper flakes (or Japanese Shichimi peppers), and crumpled, roasted Nori if you have it around.

 

2 servings of smallish noodle bowls (Donburi)

 

**Shredded bonito is sold either in a big bag for economy size or in individual package of 3 grams.  Small package products seem better quality than a larger bag.

 

***There are several kinds of soy sauce.  In the Tokyo area soy sauce is dark, in the Kyoto area they use light color soy sauce (called lighter flavor in Japanese) which is not so common in this country.  Low sodium is not this kind of light color soy sauce, and usually it doesn’t have much flavor.  Regular dark kind seems the better choice.  I use Kikkoman Extra Fancy soy sauce.  This is a bit more costly than regular Kikkoman but worth the price. 

 

Other recommendations:

Wakame:  Soak wakame in cold water for 5 minutes and chop them if necessary.  Add to the bowl along with other ingredients like scallions.