Udon are a type of thick white Japanese noodle, made of wheat flour and most commonly used in soup – kake udon – though they have many other applications besides. Yaki udon simply means ‘fried udon’ and it can be made according to many different recipes – no two recipes for yaki udon that I’ve seen have been the same. This fact makes it a perfect candidate for culinary exploration and experimentation. However, in this case I thought it best to go for a simple seasoning of soy sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil as it has yet to fail in the flavour department.
When using udon noodles always buy them fresh; all of the dried packets of udon I’ve seen are flat and boring – not at all what an udon noodle ought to be like. Most packets of fresh udon that I’ve come across purport to be ‘straight-to-wok’ – don’t listen to it! It’s always best to soak your udon in boiling water before use as it makes for a lighter, fresher meal. Every noodle in a stir fry needs to be autonomous, particularly when it comes to the thicker varieties – it can be very off-putting to be served a bowl of noodles which are clinging to one another as if holding on to their very lives.
Prawns make a great addition to yaki udon as they both possess a certain delicacy of touch and flavour. You may think that prawns are a little expensive to be featured on a so-called ‘frugal’ blog – not so! Shop around and it is a scientific certainty that you’ll stumble across a cheap source sooner rather than later. Besides, each bowl of noodles only requires 5-6 prawns – any more than that and it’s likely that someone’s being a little greedy!
How ever you wish to enjoy your yaki udon, give my basic seasoning a go – it won’t disappoint, I promise!
• 200g fresh udon noodles
• 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
• 1 fresh chilli, finely sliced
• 4-5 florets of purple sprouting broccoli, stalks and all
• 10-12 prawns (shrimp)
• 2 tbsp sesame oil
• 2 tbsp soy sauce
• 1 tsp fish sauce
1. Prepare all of your ingredients, separating the broccoli stalks from the flowers – slicing the stalks into small pieces. Pop the noodles in a bowl of boiling hot water to separate.
2. Add the oil to a very hot wok, add the garlic and chilli, followed by the broccoli stalks and prawns, cook for a minute. Add the broccoli flowers and noodles, followed by the fish sauce and soy sauce. Cook and toss for a further 2 minutes, ensuring everything is coated with the sauce.
Cost: Purple sprouting broccoli always seems to be rather expensive, but if you use the stalks it’s easy to get 5-6 meals out of every bunch. As mentioned above, prawns can be found for a very reasonable price if you search around. Indeed, this may seem like a rather luxurious dish – and it is – but can be made for very little money – £1.60 for two portions!