Udon Pasta Noodles - Round, Wide, Fine

Udon can refer to the noodle itself or dishes made from the noodle. Udon are thick noodles made from wheat and are available in round, wide, or fine shapes. They swell when cooked making them even thicker. Udon is most often served hot mixed into a mild broth (kake udon) or served in a mix of soup stock (dashi), soy sauce, and a rice-based wine or cooking sake (mirin). As with many Japanese noodles, udon noodles are often served chilled in the summer and hot in the winter. When served cool, they may be accompanied by cool vegetables like cucumber or cabbage, and in the winter the broth is made thicker.

A hot soup is often finished off with a topping of finely chopped scallions. Toppings are chosen to reflect the seasons and to balance with other ingredients. Most toppings are added without much cooking, although some are deep-fried. You may find a tempura of prawn or a mixed tempura (kakiage), or a thinly-sliced and deep-fried tofu (abura age), a thin slice of Japanese fish cake (kamaboko). Sometimes the 7-spice mix (shichimi) or pickled ginger root (beni shoga) are added.

The flavor of the broth and toppings varies around the country. In the east, the Japanese make a dark brown broth from dark soy sauce, (koikuchi shoyu) and in the western part of the country, they tend to use a light brown broth made from light soy sauce (usukuchi shoyu).