Chewy udon noodles in a thick and rich curry flavoured broth, this Japanese curry udon is one of the tastiest noodle dishes out there and it's easy to make from scratch too!
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What is Curry Udon?
While most udon noodle dishes are usually served in a light and thin broth, curry udon is very different. Although the base of the broth is the same (made with dashi, soy sauce and mirin), curry udon is thick, warming and flavoured with curry spice.
Curry udon also contains meat and a wider variety of vegetables which sets it further apart from your regular udon soup.
Curry Udon Broth
The broth is packed with flavour, here are the main ingredients:
- Dashi (Check out my recipe on how to make your own dashi from scratch.)
- Curry Powder (I use S&B brand)
- Soy sauce (I used Kikkoman)
- Mirin (I used Kikkoman)
As you can see, there are lots of Japanese flavours going on in this broth, and the result is a unique curry with a deep umami savory taste. Using soy sauce also makes the curry broth darker in colour.
To give the curry broth an authentic Japanese flavour, it's important not to skip the dashi. Dashi is a kind of soup stock made from dried kelp (kombu), bonito flakes (katsuobushi) and sometimes other ingredients such as shiitake mushrooms or dried sardines. When it contains 2 or more ingredients, it's known as "awase dashi".
It's easy to make your own dashi from scratch and only takes about 35-45 minutes from start to finish. If you're interested in learning more about homemade dashi, check out my post on how to make a basic awase dashi. I've also included instructions in the recipe card below.
If you're making a vegetarian version of the dish, make sure to use vegetarian dashi stock. You can check out my recipe for vegan dashi if you want to try making it yourself too!
If you want to save yourself some time, you don't necessarily have to make your own dashi from scratch. You can also buy the following on Amazon:
Instant dashi powder is usually made mainly from bonito (skipjack tuna) powder, the one I've linked above also contains kombu, or you can choose sardine or vegetarian too.
The dashi bags contain kombu, bonito, niboshi and shiitake.
You can simply add dashi bags or dashi powder to water to make a quick dashi, they only take a few minutes so it can cut 30 minutes off your cooking time.
Curry Udon Ingredients
Curry udon contains a wider variety of ingredients than other kinds of udon soups. Here I'll go over them in a little more detail.
Classic curry udon is usually made with thinly sliced pork, and I must say it's my favourite meat to use for this dish. The flavours from the fat in the pork add to the broth and give it an authentic flavour that you would expect when you eat curry udon in Japan.
You can also make it with beef, chicken thigh or even top it with a delicious tonkatsu (トンカツ) pork cutlet depending on your preference.
The main vegetables in this dish are spring onions and shimeji mushrooms, but you can also add other vegetables to make it more to your taste. Here are some ideas:
- White onion
- Any mushrooms
- Snow peas
- Aubergine (eggplant)
- Courgette (zucchini)
- Bell Peppers
- Baby Corn
If you're adding other vegetables, make sure you add them early to ensure they're properly cooked. If using white onion, I'd recommend sautéing them after sealing the meat.
In Japan, udon dishes are usually served with slices of a pink and white Japanese fishcakes called "kamaboko" (かまぼこ) and a sweet deep fried tofu called "aburaage" (油あげ). But these can be hard to find in other countries and they're not necessary for the dish.
If you want to upgrade your curry udon, maybe you can add a boiled egg or something deep-fried like tempura or a breaded cutlet on top. That's the ultimate curry udon in my opinion!
One of the best things about this recipe is that you can use any curry powder. It doesn't have to be Japanese curry roux or anything like that because you're already getting Japanese flavours from the dashi and condiments.
I've tried using a mild Indian curry powder and S&B Japanese curry powder to make this dish, both were delicious.
I think this recipe tastes best made with curry powder, but you can use Japanese curry roux cubes instead if you prefer.
If you go down the curry roux route, use one cube of Japanese curry roux for each tablespoon of curry powder in the recipe. So 2 tbsp curry powder = 2 cubes of curry roux.
Udon noodles are thick and chewy noodles made with flour, water and salt.
They come dried, fresh and frozen. Frozen ones have a great texture and can be microwaved for convenience, but any kind of udon works. Simply cook them separately by following the instructions on the packaging, divide them into serving bowls and pour the curry broth over the top!
The amount of udon we use per person, of course varies depending on which type you buy. Here is how much you will need for two servings.
- Fresh / refrigerated Udon - 400g (14oz)
- Dried Udon - 200g (7oz)
- Frozen Udon - 500g (18oz)
It's best to cook the noodles separately, check the packaging and follow the instructions.
Once they're ready, rinse them under hot water and divide them into serving bowls. Then you can just pour the curry soup over the top.
I hope you love this dish as much as I do. Let's get started!