Last year I spent time in an area of Japan called Sanuki, a region known for these noodles. Udon shops are on every street corner and many families eat this stuff for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The townspeople are udon connoisseurs, one of which I befriended. Over a bowl of udon at his favorite local joint, he explained to me that 20 to 30 minutes after udon noodles are made, they lose their body and texture. "This is the death of udon," he said firmly.
So you can only imagine the despair I've faced since returning to the US, now that I've only been able to find dead udon, which happens to be the stuff they serve up at most Japanese restaurants. Well I shall fret no longer, because I've realized how simple, enjoyable and rewarding it is to make your very own Sanuki-inspired udon.
Step 1: Ingredients
500 grams of bread flour
15 grams of coarse salt
240 cc of room temperature water (about 1 cup)
A handful of potato starch or corn starch (to dust the your work surface)
Note: You can buy udon flour at specialty Japanese grocery shops, but I used bread flour because of its availability and high gluten content.
Dashi Soup Base (Optional)
800 cc water
2 pieces of dried kelp
20 grams of dried bonito fish flakes
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or more, to taste)
1 tablespoon of mirin (or more, to taste)
Combine the salt and the water, making sure that all the granules have dissolved.
Sift the flour.
Once you've added all the water, don't worry if it feels a little hard or dry, as long as it holds together as one piece. Trust your dough!
Put the dough into a sealable plastic bag.