Niku Udon (Japanese Beef Noodle Soup)
Whether served on top of a bowl of rice or with chewy udon noodles, thinly shaved beef cooked with onions in a sweet-savory dashi broth is classic, warming Japanese comfort food that can be made in minutes once your pantry is stocked with a few simple Japanese staples.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 20grams/about 2 (4-inch) squares kombu
- 20grams/about 2 cups loosely packed katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
- 1pound thinly shaved beef (see Tips)
- 1small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1bunch scallions, white parts cut into 2-inch segments and halved lengthwise, light green parts thinly sliced at a sharp angle
- 1tablespoon granulated sugar
- ¼cup sake
- 2tablespoons soy sauce
- 2tablespoons mirin
- 2tablespoons soy sauce, plus more as needed
- 3tablespoons mirin, plus more as needed
- 1pound fresh or frozen udon noodles
- Shichimi or nanami togarashi, or use your favorite chile powder (optional)
Step 1Make the dashi: Combine 2 quarts cold water and the kombu in a medium saucepan, and place over medium heat. As soon as the water boils, remove from heat and add the katsuobushi, pushing it gently into the water to submerge (don’t stir vigorously). Steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain and discard the kombu and katsuobushi (or reserve to make another batch of weaker dashi) and return the dashi to the saucepan. Keep warm, but don’t let it boil.
Step 2Cook the beef: Combine the shaved beef, onion, scallion whites, sugar, sake, soy sauce, mirin and 1 cup of the finished dashi in a large skillet or sauté pan. Bring to a simmer over high heat, stirring. Continue cooking over high heat, stirring frequently, until the beef and onions are tender and the mixture is still moist but not soupy, 10 to 15 minutes.
Step 3As beef cooks, bring a pot of unsalted water to a boil – udon noodles are typically made with plenty of salt in the dough – and cook the udon noodles according to package directions.
Step 4To serve, add the soy sauce and mirin to the reserved dashi and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste with more soy sauce or mirin. (The broth should have a balanced savory-sweet flavor.)
Step 5Divide the cooked noodles across 4 large serving bowls. Ladle the broth on top of the noodles. Divide the beef and onion mixture evenly across the noodles, including any liquid in the pan. Top each bowl with sliced scallion greens. (You may have extra.) Serve immediately with shichimi togarashi to taste.