Oodles of Udon
When Mike and I were on our epic cross country road trip a few years ago, we stopped for Chinese takeout at some nameless place along the West coast. I ordered the nondescript "Healthy Noodles" on a whim and was utterly delighted with my meal - thick, doughy, and flavorful noodles tossed with stir-fried veggies. I thought about those Healthy Noodles many a time since then but only recently discovered that they were, in fact, udon noodles.
When I ordered udon noodles on purpose for the first time, not knowing exactly what they were, I finally received some long-awaited closure. My dish arrived, full of those same thick and delicious noodles I'd had years ago. I finally learned that my beloved Healthy Noodles were udon.
Next time I headed out to the Asian market, I happened across some udon noodles and decided to try my hand at preparing udon in my own kitchen. The package I decided upon actually contained pre-cooked noodles - all I had to do was add them to whatever dish I prepared. They could not have been easier to use and my final product tasted just as authentic as that of the two restaurants where I'd first tried udon.
This was the kind of meal that I composed primarily by feel. No measurements, recipes, or real direction guided my preparations - I simply added whatever I felt was necessary after each ingredient. First was some butter, sesame oil, and chopped oyster mushrooms. For a bit of protein, I added in some tiny cooked frozen shrimp (more accurately, shrimp-lets). I doused the whole thing with a little mirin (a sweet cooking sauce) and hoisin sauce (an Asian barbecue sauce of sorts) once the shrimp were fully defrosted. After introducing the udon noodles, I threw some greens in the pan to finish things off. As soon as the greens wilted, my udon delight was ready to serve.
There is something so appetizing about these doughy wheat noodles and their almost-but-not-quite-chewy texture. These are quite certainly going to become a new staple in my kitchen, especially since the local Asian market carries an affordable no-cook brand.