Aside from eating sushi, edamame, udon and miso soups,and making hiyayakko tofu, our experience with making Japanese cuisine is limited. Luckily, again as part of the Foodbuzz taste masters program, we were able to purchase some Japanese ingredients from Asian Food Grocer. Now let us tell you, how fast fast and smooth the transaction was…placed an order
Thursday morning at 2 a.m. (we think about food all the time!), got an email same morning at 9:15 a.m. with shipping confirmation and tracking number–we had barely rolled in to work and the folks at Asian Food Grocer had already shipped our order! We got the perfectly packaged order at noon, Friday, less then 2 days from the our initial order. Now we could have driven down to Japanese town in LA to buy these ingredients, but given the traffic and time involved, this was so fast and convenient.
We decided to make some staples of Japanese cuisine including dashi stock and from that make udon noodle soup. Nothing terribly exciting, but dashi is a fundamental part of Japanese cuisine and who doesn’t love udon? So with a bit of guidance from Maki at Just Hungry and Marc at No Recipes, both great sites on Japanese cuisine, we proceeded to make dashi stock and udon noodle soup with some items we had on hand, prawns and eggs.
We didn’t know there there are two types of dashi stock–first stock, or ichiban dashi–which is the more flavorful stock use in clear soups such as udon and second stock, niban dashi, basically the second rendering to squeeze out every last bit of flavor of the ichiban dashi. This is used to make stews or dishes where the flavor of dashi is not the main component.
- 2-3 large strips of Dried Kombu, cut into roughly 4×4 inch squares
- 1 handful or about 3 packages of bonito flakes
- 4 cups of cold water
- optional additional items: 4 dried shiitake mushrooms or dried sardines
First soak the dried kombu and shiitake mushrooms in the cold water in the pot for about 20 minutes and then bring to boil. Remove the seaweed and shiitake and add 3 small packages or a heaping handful of the bonito flakes and turn off heat and allow it to steep for another 5-10 minutes or so. Strain with fine sieve, pressing out the stock from the bonito flakes. Save the shiitake mushrooms. The broth should be a clear light golden yellow color.
- 4 cups dashi stock from above
- 2 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tbs mirin
- 2 ts sugar
- 1 carrot, cut into 1/2 inch segments on the diagonal and then thinly sliced
- 1/2 bunch of spinach, coarsely chopped
- shiitake mushroom from above, thinly sliced
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced on the diagonal (we forgot to add this before taking the photos!)
- eggs (raw egg is typically used in Tsukumi Udon, but we like poached and breaking the egg open and seeing the golden yolk ooze out)
- 1 tbs white vinegar to poach eggs
- udon noodles
Bring a pot of water to boil and quickly blanch the spinach and carrots and set aside. In same pot, add the udon noodles and cook until al dente. Cooking time varies depends on the thickness of noodles. When ready, strain in colander and shock with cold water to stop the cooking.
Crack egg and place in small bowl or ramekin. Using a same pot filled 1/4-1/2 way with water, add about 1 tbs of white vinegar. Bring to rolling simmer (you’ll see bubbles floating from the bottom of the pot) and using spoon or whisk, give it a few good stirs. Gently lower the egg into the water and pour it out in the direction of the flowing water. The movement of the water helps to make the poach egg into a nice oval shape. It will begin to float when done, about 3-4 minutes. Carefully remove and shock in cold water bath and set aside. Or skip this step totally and just crack a raw egg in the soup.
Prepare your noodles, mushrooms, spinach and carrots in a soup bowl. Heat the ichiban dashi and add the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar along with the prawns and bring to slow rolling boil. Make final adjustments with salt if needed and ladle broth over the noodle bowls. Top with prawns, poached eggs, and scallions and enjoy!
Thanks Foodbuzz and Asian Food Grocer for this opportunity to learn about Japanese cuisine! We should also add that there’s much more to to Asian Food Grocer aside from Japanese ingredients and include other Asian foods as well as household items, recipes, and more so check them out!