Summer Udon

Cool foods in summer, simply prepared, and served casually, make it possible for us to survive this extraordinary heat.

Cooking once for two meals, planned leftovers, makes the time spent in the kitchen efficient. Sandwiches come to mind as a second chance meal. And noodles are quick to prepare and easily transform a meat dish into a lovely soup or salad sort of meal very different from the original.

Here you can see one of my favorite summer dishes: tori namban-zuke (chicken in spicy vinegar marinade) which I often serve with mashed sweet potatoes.

I’d planned to make sweet potato cakes, but we were hungry so I simply sliced the sweet potato. Its subtle nutty sweetness is a perfect foil for the spicy chicken.

The plate with the sweet red pepper slices in the center is a leftover pork chop which I’d baked with herbs, oil, and vinegar. (Ok, it was some vinaigrette salad dressing—I was cooking for only me that day and so was very lazy)

The chicken (see link to recipe above) is marinated after it’s cooked Not wanting to waste it, I used it for a noodle broth. To tone down its sourness, I used only half of the marinade and added a half packet of instant dashi dissolved in an equal amount of water. This brand is good: it has some of the smokey fresh ocean smell of home made dashi—
I sliced some lotus root to float in the broth, to add some crunchy texture to the noodle toppings. These are convenient to use, and are found in Japanese grocery stores in the refrigerated section.
Udon are Japanese noodles made with wheat flour, water, and salt. Udon can be lots of fun to make from scratch. It is a very heavy dough so to knead it efficiently, you put it into a large plastic bag and walk on it.

Usually, though, I use frozen or dried udon which are readily available in local Asian stores. Most recently, the udon I’ve been buying have come from the small Korean grocery store near my house. I bought this package of udon at Tsai Grocery. If you can find this brand of udon you will agree that it is especially delicious.

I’ve wondered for years why Asian noodles are commonly called on their English labels as “alimentary paste” which sounds unappetizing.

Until recently, the U.S. government required a noodle to contain flour, water, and eggs to be rightly called a noodle. Since most Asian noodles aren’t made with eggs, this left them without much of an identity. The FDA permitted names like “alimentary paste” and “imitation noodles,” but Asian noodle producers–from the birthplace of the noodle no less–could not use the n-word. The government finally relented, and we can now use the name “Asian noodles.”
from The Cook’s Thesarus

Dear Mikey! You can call him anything except late for dinner…

3 thoughts on “Summer Udon

  1. Mikey looks a little surprised that the table is not set at his place.
    Your Summer food looks fresh and light and cooling and the lotus root delicate and crisp. Perfectly perfect!

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Yes he does look as if we called him too late.

      LOL but that is my chair. And this meal was casually served for just my daughter and me. She’d just come to Michigan from California and it was a “girls’ night in!”

      Never fear, Mikey has his own chair and he’s so sweet and well-mannered, never putting his paws on the table but looking so very much interested in the dinner conversation (or something), that we share with him.

  2. Pingback: Barbarian Chicken: be prepared! | Tess's Japanese Kitchen

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