Tender marinated beef, soft juicy onions and chewy udon noodles served in a rich and tasty dashi broth, this beef niku udon is the ultimate comfort dish!
Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon and Dokodemo affiliate links. Sudachi Recipes earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. See disclaimer for more info.
What is Niku Udon?
Niku udon (肉うどん) is a delicious dish made with udon noodles served in a hot dashi broth and most commonly topped with beef and onions.
The direct translation of 肉うどん is "meat udon" and while beef is most popular, some people use pork instead. In fact, Pork is more often used in Japan's Kanto (East) region, while beef is often used in the Kansai (West) region.
I personally think beef makes the best depth of flavour for this dish, but it's up to you!
What kind of beef is used in Niku Udon?
It's not necessary to use expensive beef for this dish, but I do recommend thinly sliced, fatty cut for the best texture and flavour. In Japan, we often use fatty end cuts. The beef fat dissolves into the broth and makes it richer and tastier! Thigh, loin or belly all work fine.
If you can't purchase thinly sliced beef, you can buy a block and place it in the freezer until firm (not frozen) and then cut it thinly by yourself. Freeze your beef block for approximately 30 minutes per ½ lb (225g) of meat and make sure to use a sharp knife!
Tips and tricks to make an amazing Beef Niku Udon
Flavourful broth and well seasoned beef play a big part in this dish, so here are some tips to make sure your beef niku udon doesn't fall short of flavour!
It might sound daunting and time consuming, but making your own dashi is really simple and doesn't take that long! My favourite dashi ingredients for making udon soups are:
I simply soak the kombu and niboshi for 30 minutes, then add the katsuobushi and heat it up, bringing it to almost boiling.
Shortcut: Of course, if you don't want to make your own dashi, you can take a shortcut by using instant dashi. I recommend using Dashi bags (Amazon link) they're kind of like tea bags and you can brew dashi in a few minutes. There's also Instant Dashi Powder, but the taste isn't going to be so rich or deep.
Marinating the beef
To make sure the flavour of the beef really shines through, I like to marinate it beforehand cooking. In my recipe I use:
- Soy sauce
- Oyster sauce
- Ginger paste
You can find the details in the recipe below.
10 minutes is enough time to marinate, but I often marinate for 30 minutes while soaking my dashi ingredients.
Cooking onion and beef
When making niku udon, I prefer to sauté the onions and beef, then serve them on top of the udon at the end. First, we sauté the onions until soft and then, we add the marinated beef.
One important tip in my recipe is to add the marinade to the pan too. The flavour from the marinade will be absorbed into the onions and beef. We also want to pour this marinade into the udon soup at the end, so we need to cook off the alcohol in the mirin.
Using the leftover marinade in the broth makes it rich and meaty. This method also reduces waste and none of the flavour is lost along the way.
How should we prepare the udon?
There are mainly four types of udon available in supermarkets.
- Fresh (uncooked and chilled)
- Boiled (precooked and chilled)
No matter which type you buy, udon is nearly always boiled in water and the cooking times vary between types so you will need to time it accordingly.
I always recommend cooking the udon noodles in a separate pot and then washing them under boiling water to remove the excess starch.
It's also important not to overcook udon! They should be served "el dente" (firm to the bite) and cooking the udon is usually one of the last things I do when making this dish. Basically, every other element of niku udon can be reheated, but if the udon is ruined, it can't be saved.
Tip: My favourite udon noodles are frozen "Sanuki Udon", they're perfectly chewy and you can cook them in the microwave. They're so convenient!
Ramen and udon are completely different dishes. Firstly, different noodles are used. Udon noodles are thick and chewy while ramen noodles are thinner. Also, udon soup tends to be a light and delicate in taste whereas ramen broths are usually stronger and salter.
Udon noodles are made with wheat flour, water and salt.
Niku udon is a hot, soupy dish made with thick udon noodles and topped with thinly sliced, seasoned beef or pork.
Check out our video for How to make homemade beef udonPrint
Check out more Udon Dishes on Sudachi Recipes!
We're huge fans of udon noodles here at sudachi recipes, so check out some of our other favourite udon recipes!