What Are Udon Noodles?

While everybody and their dog’s mother knows about ramen at this point, it’s not the only player in the Japanese noodle game. Another notable noodle? Udon! What is udon? What are udon noodles made of? Calm down and we’ll fill your noodle with some answers.

What are udon noodles?

Udon noodles are classic Japanese comfort food. You know those dishes that you eat when you feel like you need a big warm hug? That’s udon. Udon noodles are big, chewy, thick, filling noodles. Have you ever been in a Japanese restaurant, or walked by one with those fake food dishes in the window, and seen some super thick noods? Those were udon noodles, baby! Udon noodles can be found in stir-frys and, most commonly, soups. Those fat noodles are great at soaking up the broth. Udon noodles most likely originated in China and then made their way over to Japan during the Tang dynasty, between 618 and 907 AD. Those are some old noodles.

What are udon noodles made of? 

Udon noodles are made out of flour along with a little water and salt. Supposedly, the udon noodle dough can be so tough to knead that the old school way to do it was to stomp on it. Hopefully everyone’s feet were washed. 

Are udon noodles gluten free?

For anyone out there that’s avoiding gluten, you may need to find a different noodle, as udon noodles definitely contain wheat. Of course, there are a few gluten-free options available out there. But classic udon noodles are gluten-ful. 

Are udon noodles vegan?

Unlike many other noodles, udon noodles don’t contain any egg, so they are technically vegan. I’m saying udon is technically vegan because, while the noodles themselves do not contain any animal products, a lot of the dishes they’re served in do. So if you’re ordering the udon, be sure to ask! 

How to eat udon noodles?

There’s Zaru udon, which is served cold with a dipping sauce. Kake udon is served hot in a broth. Udon broths and dipping sauces are typically made out of dashi, soy sauce, and mirin. There’s curry udon with a curry broth, tempura udon with fried tempura accompaniment, chikara udon (udon soup with toasted mochi), nabeyaki udon (udon soup cooked and served in a clay pot), kitsune udon (udon soup with fried tofu and fish cakes), tanuki udon (udon soup with crunchy tempura flakes), and tsukimi udon (udon soup with a poached egg). There’s a lot of udon recipes out there. Of course, you can also cook the noodles and toss them into a stir fry (like yaki udon). Or, heck, go ahead and top them with butter and parmesan.  

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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