Udon Noodle Soup with Pork
It may be difficult to find fresh udon for this homey Asian-inspired soup, but 1 lb. (500 g) dried udon can be substituted. Just follow the cooking instructions on the package. You can also use fresh Chinese egg noodles in place of the udon.
- 8 cups (2 qt./2 l) chicken broth
- 1 pork belly slab, about 2 1/2 lb. (1.25 kg)
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 7 garlic cloves
- 4 star anise
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 1 Tbs. light sesame oil
- 2-inch (5-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
- 5 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./80 ml) low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 1/2 oz. (45 g) dried shiitake mushrooms
- 3 packages (7 oz./220 g each) fresh udon noodles
- 4 eggs
- 3 green onions, white and tender green portions, thinly sliced
In a large pot over high heat, bring the water to a rapid boil. If using fresh udon noodles, add them to the boiling water and cover the pot. When the water returns to a boil, uncover and cook for about 10 seconds. Drain the noodles in a colander, rinse under cold running water and set aside. If using dried udon noodles, add them to the boiling water, stir well and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the noodles in a colander, rinse under cold running water and drain again thoroughly. Set aside.
Using a sharp knife, cut the pork against the grain into thin slices, then cut the slices into matchsticks. In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the broth, carrot, shiitake and enoki mushrooms, ginger, chilies, mirin, soy sauce and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the pork, increase the heat to high and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the cooked noodles, watercress and green onions, and simmer until the watercress and green onions have wilted and the noodles are just heated through, about 1 minute.
Remove the pot from the heat, and remove and discard the chilies. Taste and adjust the seasonings, then ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, dividing evenly, and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Pasta Book, by Julia della Croce (Weldon Owen, 2010).