Eilene has come down with another cold—I do not know what it has been about this year that we keep getting sick. Jan suggested that I make her chicken soup. A favorite of hers is chicken udon.
Basic chicken udon is just chicken, udon noodles, green onions, and broth—usually dashi. Many recipes include mushrooms, tofu, various vegetables—both land and sea—and shichi-mi tōgarashi on the side, for those who like to spice things up. Many recipes also use garlic, but this generally a non-standard ingredient in Japanese cooking.
For my broth, I decided to use chicken broth enhanced with powdered HonDashi. Shitaki mushrooms are a common ingredient in udon soups, but the only mushroom that Eilene likes is enoki. In addition to green onions, I like to bulk up the soup with baby bok choi. I also like to add some wakame seaweed.
Using just plain chicken makes for a simple elegant flavor. I have frequently made this dish that way, but this time I decided to do something a bit different. I marinated the chicken in a mixture of white miso, mirin, saki, and ginger.
Karl’s Miso Chicken Udon
4-5 boneless chicken thighs (~1 lb.)
4 Tbs. white miso, separate uses
2 Tbs. saki
1 Tbs. mirin
1 tsp. light low sodium soy sauce
1 pkg. enoki (200 grams)
2-3 baby bok choi (about 2 cups, loose packed)
3 green onions
1 pkg. udon (250 grams)
32 oz. low sodium chicken broth
2 Tbs. ginger, slivered
1 Tbs. dried wakami
1 Tbs. HonDashi
1. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and put them in a small bowl.
2. Mix in two tablespoons of the miso, the saki, mirin , and soy sauce.
3. Let the chicken marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Tip: Two hours in the refrigerator is better.
4. Trim off the base of the enoki mushrooms and break them up into pieces.
Note: Enoki mushrooms are sold in solid, stuck together bunch with their roots—which are covered in their growing mulch—still attached. Cut away the lower ¼-⅓ of the bunch to remove the dirty roots.
5. Separate the outer leaves of bok choi and cut them into bite sized pieces.
Tip: Cut the leafy part from the thick stalk. Cut any large stalks in thirds or half as necessary. Cut the remaining core of the bok choi in half or thirds vertically.
6. Cut the white parts of the green onions into 1½ inch pieces, and set them aside.
7. Slice the green parts of the green onions finely and keep them separately from the white parts.
8. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles al dente.
Tip: Boiling the noodles separately has to advantages. Firstly, you reduce the risk of overcooking the noodles. Secondly, you diners can choose how much starch they wish to put into their bowl. A disadvantages is that the soup cools off too much when your pout it over the cold noodles.
Note: I like to take the noodles out of the pot with a spider and keep the hot water to reheat the noodles before assembling the soup in the individual bowls.
9. Remove the noodles, run cold water over then to prevent overcooking, and set them aside.
10. Bring the chicken broth to a simmer in a soup pot.
11. Stir the chicken and all of the marinade into the soup.
12. Add the rest of the miso, ginger and enoki.
13. Simmer the soup for 4-5 minutes.
14. Gently stir in the thick stalks of the bok choi, the white parts of the green onion, and continue simmering for 2 minutes.
Tip: You do not want to break up the enoki bundles too much.
15. Stir in the leafy parts of the bok choi, the wakami, and the HonDashi.
16. Simmer the soup for another two minute.
17. Reheat the udon noodles and place a portion into an individual bowl.
Tip: If you did not save the hot water, you may pop them in the microwave for one minute on high.
18. Pour the soup over the noodles, garnish with the green onions and serve.