One of the joys of vegan Japanese food is the humbly delicious udon noodle. Thick and substantial, yet slippery and melting, udon is a wonderful comfort food. Despite common opinion stating that udon noodles are high in calories, a medium portion in a broth like this is wonderfully healthy. Don’t worry if you can’t find mirin (a Japanese rice wine); you could substitute in dry sherry.
Udon Noode Soup
- 100g shiitake mushrooms
- 3 cups/700ml water
- 3 sheets deep-fried tofu, drained and sliced
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp sake
- 1/2 carrot, sliced thinly
- 50g chinese cabbage, chopped
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 270g dried udon noodles
- Cook udon noodles, according to package instructions. Cut off the stalks of the shiitake mushrooms, and lay aside. Soak the mushroom caps in the water for 30 minutes (now is a good time to prepare vegetables and lay the table!).
- Remove caps from the water, and strain the water into a saucepan to remove any grit. Heat on a low heat. Slice the shiitake mushroom caps and put aside with the stalks.
- Heat a wok on a high heat, and grease very slightly. Fry the tofu for 30 seconds, then add the mushrooms and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
- Add the sugar and sake, and continue to stir fry for 5 minutes.
- Add the hot mushroom water and reduce the heat. Cook on a medium flame for around 10 minutes, after which any froth should be skimmed off.
- Add the carrot, Chinese cabbage, mirin and half of the soy sauce, and simmer for 3 minutes – letting the flavors infuse.
- Dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tbsp cold water, then add to the wok.
- Divide the udon noodles between the bowls, and add the soup.
Serve hot with freshly grated ginger and shredded leek.
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