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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Udon at home... Quick and easy

I have a slight obsession with all things noodles. When I was a kid my dad dubbed me a "pasta-tarian" due to my abnormal love.
When it comes to Japanese cuisine, udon is where it's at. Those giant pillow noodles designed specifically for slurping are absolutely perfect. If I'm checking out a new Japanese place, this is the dish I base my entire opinion of the establishment on. I looooove udon noodles.
Every time I went to an Asian market, I'd fill my basked with shrink wrapped joy. And imagine my absolute glee when I discovered my regular supermarket had begun carrying my favorite brand! Needless to say, they have officially found a permanent home in my pantry.

Yield: 4 ginormous bowls
Time: about 20 min

For the udon:
• 5-6 C water
• 2 pkgs udon noodles (throw away the flavoring packs... It's so easy to make your own broth)
• 2 pkgs instant miso soup (my favorite is Trader Jose's)
• 4 C shredded kale or other green... Savoy cabbage is great 
• 1 carrot, thinly cut on a bias
• 1/2 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
• 1 soft boiled egg per person (about 3-4 total)
• vegetable oil for sautéing

For the scallops:
• 10 large scallops (approx. 1#)
• 2 Tbs soy sauce
• 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
• 1 Tbs vegetable oil

Remove scallops from the fridge and put them in a mixing bowl. Combine soy, vinegar, and oil over the scallops and gently stir to coat. Set aside. (Leave them out to allow them to come to room temperature so they won't over cook... Kinda like a steak.)
Heat large pot over med-high. Add oil and onions. Sweat the onions for about 3 min. Add greens and carrots. Cover and wilt for about 7-10 min. You want the carrot to still have some crunch. Mush is no fun. Once the greens have wilted, add the water and miso powder. Bring to a boil.
Preheat a large cast iron skillet. When the oil begins to ripple, place the scallops in the pan. Do not over crowd them, as you want them to sear, not steam. Once placed, do not move them for at least 2 min.
Add udon noodles to boiling soup base. Stir, and cover.
Flip scallops over mad sear on other side until just cooked through. About 2-3 min. Remove from heat. The cooking time of the scallops really depends on how large they are. Most only take a few minutes per side. Also remember that they will be taking a hot bath in soup, and that will continue to cook them a bit.
To assemble the soup, place one soft boiled egg your bowl. Ladle soup over the egg to reheat it. Place 2-3 scallops on top.
Traditionally, poached eggs are served in udon, but i find it much easier to used soft boiled. You don't have to worry about timing or breaking the egg, etc.
Serve with Japanese pepper flakes... If you like it spicy.
I love breaking the egg so that the yolk can thicken the broth a little. This is definitely a dish where you can play with your food. Time to slurp and enjoy.

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