Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rice Cooker Udon Noodle Soup

This is my recipe for rice cooker udon noodle soup. Since I make this soup at my office where there is no sink to wash dirty dishes, I have managed to put this recipe together with very little utensils and measuring devices. This kind of soup is well adapted to changes. You can add just about whatever you want to it, although the base of the soup should stay comprised of Bonito and some sort of seaweed as that is the classic Dashi stock used in many Japanese soup recipes.

This is the small rice cooker I use in my office. I have used it to make regular Ramen as well as to steam veggies and dumplings for my lunch. Thanks to this little rice cooker, I don't have to rely on the microwave.

The first step is to measure out some water for the stock. I use one of those large latte mugs for my soups because they are big enough to hold the noodles and soup contents. They also have a handy dandy little handle which saves your hands from burning when you transport the soup from the cooking area. Fill the mug up to about a 1/2 inch from the top.

Pour the water from the mug in the rice cooker bowl. At this time, you will want to turn the rice cooker on. Go ahead and switch it on to cook as opposed to leaving it on warm.

After you have gotten the water settled, it's time to put in the stock ingredients. For classic Dashi stock, Bonito flakes and Kombu seaweed is boiled together. But then the Dashi is drained so that the Bonito and Kombu are filtered out. I use Wakame seaweed instead of Kombu and leave the Bonito in the soup. It's a personal preference because I want to eat the seaweed and I don't mind eating the Bonito. You can use the traditional Dashi recipe if you're making this at home and want the clean broth.

I measure the ingredients in my hand since I don't have any measuring tools. You can adjust the measurements to taste. Keep in mind that the Bonito will compact, and even some will dissolve, when wet. Additionally, the Wakame will expand quite a lot when re-hydrated.

I use one medium to large sized Shitake mushroom for the broth. I like the depth that it adds to the Dashi. After wiping the mushroom with a little damp cloth, remove the stem. Removing the stem is easy, just hold the cap gently in one hand and the stem firmly in the other, and twist the stem off of the cap. Sometimes you'll have to pull while twisting to make it happen.

Then slice up the mushroom like so.

You can slice the mushroom thinner and leave the pieces long, or you can cube them like I have below. I eat my noodle soup with chopsticks, so I prefer thicker mushrooms.

Then put the mushrooms in the water along with the Dashi ingredients.

I've used a couple of different kinds of noodles for this soup. I've used regular Ramen noodles; I've used soft Udon noodles which are packaged similarly to Ramen; I've used a smaller flat asian noodle that comes in a little nest (I don't read Chinese so I have no idea what these noodles are); and finally I've used these flat Udon noodles. My favorite noodles were the soft Udon noodles, but those come individually packaged at $1/package. So there's extra plastic waste plus the waste of the unused flavor pack. For this blog, I used the flat Udon noodles pictured below. I do like them, however I just found a store nearby which sells the round Udon noodles packaged similarly to these. I will be trying those next time because those soft Udon noodles I liked so much were also round. I like the round ones because they are more dough-ey than the flat noodles.

For this package, I had to measure my own noodles. All the previous noodles had their own portioning methods, this one didn't. So I remembered that the Soba noodles I've purchased before in a similar package had three portions in it. Thus I divided this package into thirds and placed the noodles in the bowl to cook alongside the Dashi ingredients. You don't have to cook the Dashi first, it can all cook together to save time.

The Cons of using this kind of noodle is that they don't fit in the bowl all at once. However, as the noodles cook, they will droop and end up completely submerged. You don't have to cover the soup for it to cook, so not only can you just walk away from the soup until it is done, but that makes one less item you have to take home to wash.

You'll want the soup mixture to cook until it comes to this slight boil. The soup is ready when the noodles are cooked to the desired consistency.

Once everything is done, pour the whole soup into your mug and Enjoy! Sometimes I'll also add a topping of Furikake or a dash of soy just to make things a little different, but it is not needed.


mybluevan said...

Decided to give this a try last night. It was really good, thanks for idea. I didn't have bonito, but the powdered dashi I had in the cabinet worked just fine. The thing I like best about this is how easy it is to make, and no measuring required.

Maggie ~:) said...

I'm glad you liked it! Thanks for dropping by and trying out my recipe. Stay tuned, I'm working on two new easy soup recipes for the rice cooker that I hope to start testing as soon as I'm back in my office next week.