Udon Soup, or Kake Udon かけうどん in a Ramen Disguise

What you see above is my very first udon soup and the unorthodox toppings have only one explanation: I wanted to prepare a ramen soup*. I have been planning it for months, but when I discovered I had a choice between three different broth types, I was unable to take a decision. Hot Summer days were not very motivating either. I kept on reading attentively Hiroyuki’s Blog on Japanese Cooking, his instructions, recipes, testing his patience with endless questions and discussions… Then, I also searched Nami’s blog (Just One Cookbook) for all her Japanese soup recipes, asked her some more questions, received precious advice and… still hesitated. Thank you both for your patience!

Finally, when it started to rain and the temperature fell, I felt ready for my first ramen, but I realised I only had thicker and slightly chewy udon noodles. Then I remembered the questions Charles (from Five Euro Food) asked on my blog about a good noodle broth recipe and Hiroyuki’s answer (see both here) and decided to switched to kake udon idea (かけうどん), in other words, udon soup made with kakejiru broth (meaning “soup for pouring on”).

Even though in some source (such as Shizuo Tsuji’s “Japanese Cooking“) kakejiru contains salt and sugar, I sticked to the broth recipe given by Hiroyuki, slightly modifying his ingredients ratio (12:1:1). Since I use only low-sodium soy sauce, I doubled it and I must say it was not too salty at all. Finally, I ended up with 25:5:2 ratio for, respectively, (home-made) dashi, soy sauce and mirin and found this broth particularly good and versatile enough to withstand the strong taste of the pork marinated in ginger and garlic. Thank you, Hiroyuki, once more for all your patient and detailed advice!

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Having exchanged several messages with Hiroyuki, I have decided to add something important: if you use instant dashi (containing sodium), stick to Hiroyuki’s original 12:1:1 ratio and adjust the taste afterwards. I was able to add so much soy sauce and created 25:5:5 ratio only because home-made dashi is not salty and because I use low-sodium soy sauce.

The kake udon photos I have seen didn’t feature as many toppings and I admit the garnish was chosen rather to match my original ramen idea. However, I was right to dare it since the soup taste was simply fabulous. Looking at my photo I think I should still work on an efficient method to cut neatly a medium-cooked egg in two… It’s not as easy as I thought!

*Ramen is a nourishing wheat flour noodle soup with different toppings, served in a big bowl and adored by most Westerners, for example my husband.

Preparation: 30 minutes

Ingredients (makes one big bowl):

Broth (kakijuru):

250 ml home-made dashi (I have posted the recipe here, but you can use the instant dashi, however stick to Hiroyuki’s original ratio 12:1:1, since instant dashi contains salt; afterwards you may adjust the taste of course)

50 ml low sodium soy sauce or 25 standard soy sauce

20 ml mirin

1 egg

100 g thinly sliced pork (mine was lean)

1 small clove garlic, grated or crushed

1 cm fresh ginger, grated

1 tablespoon soy sauce

chopped chives

finely sliced small red onion

1 package udon

Combine the soy sauce, the garlic, the ginger and the pork and put aside to marinate for 15 minutes.

Prepare udon according to the instructions on the package.

Put the egg into a small pan with cold water (just enough to cover it) and cook it exactly 6 minutes after the water starts to boil.

Put it aside.

In the meantime stir fry the pork and put aside in a warm place (slightly heated oven is a good option).

Warm up the broth ingredients and put aside when they are almost boiling.

Put the noodles into a big bowl. Cover with the broth.

Carefully place the pork, the egg cut in half and chopped chives.


21 Replies to “Udon Soup, or Kake Udon かけうどん in a Ramen Disguise”

  1. Tonight is our game night, I was pondering what to cook so the clean up would be easy (so I won’t have to miss out on playing Monopoly). Your blog posting just confirm that some kind of Japanese noodle will be on the menu. Yum!

    1. Have a great Monopoly! I am very curious about your Japanese noodle dish… Let me know what you have decided to make!

  2. Looks awesome, different colors, textures and flavours in one bowl. There is something for everyone:) The last ramen I had was a much simpler instant version:) I haven’t had the proper stuff in a while. Reading this post I am almost tempted to make me an instant one now – but I will resist the temptation.

    1. Thank you, Mr Three-Cookies. I think I would like to add also a vegetable in the future (apart from the onion). I prefer udon noodles from ramen noodles and since the soup was really good I think I will make it with udon very often! I buy precooked udon which is very quick and easy to prepare.

    1. Wow! I shouldn’t be afraid of saying I have miso soup every day then! Japanese food is sometimes addictive…

  3. Aaah, thank you! I’ve been wanting to make an udon soup for so long – you make it seem almost easy! Can’t wait to try this now (loving the eggs on top!) – I agree with EB… I really want a bowl of this right now 😀

    1. Thank you, Charles! I hope you will not wait as long as I did to make your first udon. It is very easy. The number and kind of toppings depend on your mood, appetite and patience 🙂

      1. Had to come back here because I forgot the name of “dashi”. Now I’ve put it on my shopping list for the Japanese shop tomorrow 🙂 Actually the Japanese place is on the same road as the Korean one you mentioned (rue St. Anne)!

        1. Thanks, Charles! I didn’t know (I haven’t noticed when I was there). Have a nice shopping time!

  4. Looks really tasty and healthy! But, a 25:5:2 ratio? That translates into 5:1:0.4, which is quite similar to the ratio (4-5:1:1) of my dipping sauce for udon and other types of noodles (soba, hiyamugi, and somen). Did you finish off all the broth? Sorry for saying so, but my father is hypertensive, and I really can’t take chances… I will stick to my low-sodium ratio, and won’t finish off the broth (well, sometimes I will)!
    As for the soy sauce or salt and mirin or sugar issue, just be flexible and creative. There are no rules whatsoever. Many recipes call for both soy sauce and salt and both mirin and sugar, and that only reflects the preferences of the recipe writer. For example, 5 tsp mirin can be replaced by 2 tsp mirin plus 1 tsp sugar, based on the fact that sugar is 3 times sweeter than mirin. As for soy sauce and salt, you can start with a small amount salt, say 1 tsp, stop adding more when you think it’s enough, and add some soy sauce for flavoring. Japanese cuisine is more like improvising… I often change the dashi, soy sauce, and mirin according to my and my family’s physical condition, the season, the weather, and other factors.

    As for ramen broths, I definitely suggest starting with a soy sauce (shoyu) flavored one, like the one depicted in the movie, Tampopo. Then you can proceed to a miso flavered one. And, finally try a shio (salt) flavored one. Believe it or not, most ramen chefs agree that shio ramen is the most difficult to make (because you can’t cover up the flavors of the ingredients with the strong flavor of soy sauce or miso).

    I hope you can find some decent noodles suitable for ramen somewhere.

    1. Thank you, Hiroyuki! It’s thanks to all your posts talking about noodles and broths. I simply had to start making it one day!
      The ratio may seem very salty, but my soy sauce has 40% less salt than the standard one. When I used your standard ratio, it wasn’t salty enough. Then, my dashi isn’t salted at all (maybe instant dashi contains some salt?), it was a home-made ichiban dashi I had in the fridge. We have both finished the broth!
      Thank you for the advice, I must admit at the beginning I am a bit scared of improvising in the Japanese dishes. I am afraid of destroying the simplicity and balance that are so characteristic. When it gets finally hot (I hope it will!), I’ll make a dipping sauce for soba. (By the way, I have never heard of hiyamugi, I must look for them).
      Shio sauce sounds very challenging! I might try it one day, after several more tests with the soy sauce flavoured one.
      Sadly I have never seen Tampopo. I have heard so many times about it… but it’s impossible to get here.
      I have seen ramen noodles, but only one brand (the others are already with an instant soup), so I hope they will be ok. I will certainly ask your opinion again 🙂

      1. Instant dashi contains monosodium glutamate (SMG), so it does contain sodium. According to Ajinomoto’s webiste,
        (Japanese only)
        their instant dashi, Hondashi, contains 160 mg sodium (sodium chloride equivalent of 0.42 g) per g. That’s quite a number!

        Hiyamugi is thicker than somen and thinner than udon. As I said in my blog, I’m a hiyamugi person, but sadly, both my wife and children are fans fo somen.

        I know how hard it is to cut boiled eggs properly. I think I’ll buy some piano wire.

        On a different note, I started making shibazuke last night. Will post about it in the near future.

        1. Thank you very much, Hiroyuki! Now I understand why I could put so much soy sauce. Home-made dashi+low-sodium soy sauce don’t produce a very salty broth. I will maybe add a sentence or two about it in my post.
          I’m sorry I must have forgotten about hiyamugi on your blog. There are so many new products almost in every post, as a non-Japanese speaker I’m lost and easily forget.
          I think cutting hard-boiled eggs is quite easy, but medium-boiled is a nightmare! And what you see above is not my first egg! (The first one fell into pieces 😉 Piano wire is a great idea! I have also thought a special tool for cutting cheese might be handy (but a piano wire will be smaller and cheaper).
          I’m looking forward to read about shibazuke and make it on my own.

  5. Your Kakeudon looks delicious!!! The half boiled egg is perfectly cooked and oh I love your bowl! Like we said before, we can shop for Japanese plates for hours and hours… 😉 Thanks for the mention, Sissi. Udon is my daughter’s favorite dish. We went to eat Pho tonight, and she complained why we were not eating udon…. Yummy bowl of noodle soup!

    1. Thank you, Nami! My egg may be perfectly cooked, but definitely not perfectly cut in two 😉 I have actually had this bowl for many years. I have several of those and frankly when I bought them I have never thought I would use them so often. They also looked fragile, but they stand the dish washer without any problems. I also prefer udon from Pho 😉 I totally agree with your daughter!

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