Japanese Kare Udon to Warm Your Tummy
This comfort dish, popular amongst Japanese people, is probably not as well-known as sushi or ramen but it is definitely loved by many.
Kare udon first appeared in Japan around 1904. It was served at Misasaan, a long-established soba restaurant, in Waseda University, Tokyo. It is said that the menu, offering Japanese udon noodles served with a curry soup, gained popularity with Waseda students as soon as it appeared.
Since its creation, kare udon has been loved by people as much as the usual udon, and its taste has evolved over the period of a century. There are several types of kare udon: a hot and spicy type using various spices, a milder type with coconut milk, and a vegetarian type using vegetables and fruits. The taste is adaptable and suits various palettes.
One famous type of kare udon comes from Nagoya, a city in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Nagoya-style kare udon developed independently of the mainstream kare udon. Like authentic Indian cuisine, the roux is spicy, thick and creamy. The soup is made using chicken broth, with pieces of deep-fried tofu, spring onion, pork, and boiled fish cake, all served with a thick, chewy type of udon. The curry spices are prepared in a unique white soy sauce which comes from the Tokai region. This is then mixed with the soup stock. This unique combination creates a charming dish. Since the main component of this curry spice is turmeric, Nagoya kare udon is said to be effective in preventing hangovers. For this reason, some sake lovers in Nagoya have a habit of eating kare udon after drinking. The pioneer of Nagoya kare udon is “Udon Nishiki”, an udon restaurant located in one of Nagoya’s popular drinking districts, “Nishiki-san”. It has been serving customers until 2 AM each morning since its establishment in 1982. Thanks to Nishiki Udon, kare udon eating habits spread rapidly throughout Nagoya.
Standard Kare udon recipe
Ingredients for 2 servings
Katsuo dashi (bonito stock) 500 ml
Soy sauce 2 tablespoons
Mirin 2 tablespoons
Curry powder 1 tablespoon
Potato starch 1 tablespoon
Flour 1 tablespoon
Water 3 tablespoons
Udon noodles as needed for 2 servings
Your favourite ingredients (green onions, pork, beef, chicken, etc.) as needed
How to make
1. Put the bonito stock, soy sauce, mirin and ingredients into a pan and boil for about 5 minutes. This mixture will be used for the udon soup later.
2. Mix with the curry powder, potato starch, flour, and water and bring to the boil, simmer and thicken.
3. Boil the udon in a separate pan and serve in a bowl.
4. Pour on the dashi stock mixture and then the thickened curry paste onto the udon and it’s ready to serve!