Surprisingly often I go totally off-piste now and simply google what I fancy having for dinner. Even more atypically for me I took this one from an American website.
Not that I have anything against the Americans, mind, but I struggle with ounces and ‘cups’. Especially cups. Whose ideas was cups? Cups of what? How big? Apparently cups are 237 ml. No idea if that’s actually right, but I managed to make this recipe work so I can’t be a million miles off.
This one was a particular delight, partially because I don’t eat udon nearly enough and partially because I rarely have pork. The advice to leave the pork to properly brown is essential.
Without doing my other udon recipe down, because it was great, I have a vague memory of it being a faff. I only made it once, so don’t take my terrible memory as a given. However, I did feel that this one was a breeze by comparison.
Good things: superbly tasty, looks scrumptious, and something a little bit different.
Bad things: it’s surprisingly easy to burn cabbage in my humble opinion.
Ingredients & requirements: for 2 meals
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- two thirds of a head of cabbage
- 400g pre-prepared udon noodles
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 250g ground pork
- 5 spring onions
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger (1-inch piece)
- 1 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
- 60g mirin
- 60g soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Preparation & cooking
- Separate the pale from the dark bits of the 5 spring onions, and then….
- Set as side in a small bowl together:
- coarsely chopped pale parts of the spring onion
- 2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
- Set aside the finely chopped parts of the dark green parts of the spring onion.
- Coarsley chop 2/3rds head of cabbage leaves
- Combine the 60g of mirin and 60g of soy sauce in a pyrex measuring jug.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large wok over a medium heat. Cook the cabbage pieces, and make sure you toss often, for 5-6 mins. Take off the heat.
- Get out a large heatproof bowl – I used a pyrex mixing bowl – and place the 400g of udon in it. Cover with boiling water (1-1.4 litres from a kettle). Let it rest for 1 minute before draining with a colander. Return to the bowl.
- Toss the noodles with 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil in the bow. Then add the cabbage from the wok.
- Wipe out the wok before adding another 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over a medium-high heat and add the 250g of pork (half a standard packet). Break it up and spread it over the surface of the pan and leave entirely untouched for 3 minutes. That’s the way to get it to brown nicely. After 3 mins start tossing it until all the pink has gone (another minute or so).
- Add and cook for 1 min or so:
- pale parts of the spring onions
- chilli flakes
- Add and coat everything in the sauce for 1 minute:
- udon/cabbage mixture
- 60g mirin
- 60g soy sauce (or a pre-prepared mixture of the two as I did)
- Remove from the head in the 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and the dark green bits of the spring onions. Top with some more sesame seeds if you wish when serving.
My reflections are only positive. I bought double the amount of udon noddles I required so I could experiment with them some more. However, I might just remake this again, it was a delight!
In my experience udon is oddly difficult to lay your hands on when you don’t have that many large supermarkets around. I used Amoy Straight to Wok Udon Thick Noodles, which I have found in the Clerkenwell Waitrose, but the only supermarket I can find them stocked in around Brixton is the big Tesco. No udon to be found in the M&S or either of the Sainbury’s locals (despite stocking the rest of the Amoy range). Annoying. One of those odd reminders to go shopping for the hardest to find ingredient first, even though this should not be a hard ingredient to find.