Udon Noodle Soup with Vegetables and Tofu Recipe
by Elizabeth Andoh
For Gluten Free version, substitute GF noodles and wheat free tamari.
3 or 4 large dried shiitaké mushrooms
3 cups water
11/2 ounces daikon tops, kale, or other leafy greens, loosely tied in a bundle with kitchen twine
3 sheets thin fried tōfu (page 282)
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, preferably maitaké (page 272), trimmed and hand shredded into 1/2-inch lengths
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon saké
1 slender carrot, about 2 ounces, scraped and cut into matchsticks
2 ounces daikon, scraped and cut into matchsticks
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon light-colored soy sauce
2 sheets hoshi yuba, softened (page 261) and coarsely shredded, or 1/4 cup finely broken hoshi yuba (1/4-inch bits)
11/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
Cooked udon noodles, for serving hot (page 55)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Extract a stock from the dried shiitaké mushrooms: Break off the stems and set them aside for making stock on another occasion. Here you are using only the dried shii¬také caps to make a stock (and to cook later with the other vegetables). Soak the caps in the water in a bowl for at least 30 minutes and preferably for 1 hour or more. Remove the caps from the water and rinse them to remove any gritty material, then squeeze gently. Pour the soaking water through a fine-mesh strainer (or disposable coffee filter) into a clean bowl to remove unwanted bits that may have settled at the bottom of the bowl. Set the stock aside. Slice the dried shiitake caps into very narrow strips.
Bring a small saucepan filled with water to a boil. Blanch the bundle of leafy greens for 30 seconds, or until they wilt and turn a vivid green. With long chopsticks or tongs pull them from the pot and set aside. Blanch the tōfu slices in the same pot for 1 minute, or until oil swirls on the water’s surface. Drain, cut each slice lengthwise in half, and then cut each half crosswise into short, narrow strips. Blot away excess oil from the strips. When the greens are cool enough to handle, squeeze out excess moisture, chop coarsely, and set aside.
Heat a wok or a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Toss in the tōfu and allow the pieces to sear for a moment until lightly browned at the edges. Add the fresh mushrooms, then the slivers of softened dried shiitaké and stir-fry for about 1 minute, or until any excess liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are aromatic. Sprinkle with the sugar and continue to stir-fry for 30 seconds longer. Add the saké and stir-fry until the pan is dry.
Add the stock (it will sizzle and sputter a bit, so be careful) and lower the heat to maintain a steady but not-too-vigorous simmer. Skim away the first large cloud of froth that appears with a fine-mesh skimmer. More froth will appear (this is normal when using shiitaké mushroom stock) as you continue to simmer. Cook for 5 or 6 minutes, then skim away the froth again.
Add the carrot and daikon, season the soup with the mirin and light-colored soy sauce, and continue to sim¬mer for 2 or 3 minutes, or until the vegetables are firm but tender and the flavors are melded.
Add the yuba and stir to distribute, and then add the soy sauce. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and cold water. Add the mixture to the pan, raise the heat to high, and stir until thickened and glossy. The final soup will have the consistency of a thin sauce.
Divide the noodles among 4 warmed bowls, then divide the soup evenly among the bowls. Top each serving with some of the chopped greens and a small mound of ginger. Serve immediately.