Something I Ate: Hiyashi Udon with a Special Egg

hiyashi udonJust as ma po dou fu is a favorite emergency dinner option in my home (even if there’s no ground pork in the fridge, there tends to be tofu in there, and there’s always frozen pork in the freezer), udon is ubiquitous for lunch when we’re otherwise uninspired. We do a number of noodle dishes that go beyond udon, including dan dan noodles, somen (only in summer), Phad Thai, and yakisoba, but “something udon” is generally quick and easy.

I usually prefer frozen Sanuki udon for its texture (a thicker, stiffer variety from Kagawa prefecture), so we stock up whenever there’s a sale at Uwajimaya—with noodle packages taking over the freezer.

I like the versatility of having udon either cold or warm—in soup or not. Most often, we have kitsune udon, with the noodles served in hot dashi along aburaage (a deep-fried tofu pouch) and kamaboko fish cake. When I make a batch of kimchi (which we’ll keep forever in the fridge, letting it get more and more pungent), then it’s definitely kimchi udon time for fermented fun.

But with the Sous Vide Supreme at our disposal, my partner pounced on the chance to enjoy what’s essentially the onsen tamago from her homeland. In Japan, the eggs cook slowly in a bubbling, sulfuric (an onsen is a hot spring) bath, leaving them half-cooked  with a runny yolk—and perfect with rice and other savory accompaniments (like seaweed or dried fish) for breakfast. We don’t have a hot spring handy, but I believe that eggs are one of the best foods to prepare sous vide. Just 45-60 minutes in a 148 degree water bath, and the eggs have a perfect texture.

For hiyashi udon, cook the noodles until done, and then rinse under cold water and shake dry. Add grated ginger and thinly sliced green onion to your liking, along with tenkasu (dried tempura bits) and tsuyu (dipping sauce). As at an udon restaurant in Japan, you can add a variety of other topics. Our choice: that onsen-like tamago, with the runny yolk coating the noodles in eggy goodness.

First published on TheSunbreak.com on September 3, 2010.

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