Monday, March 19, 2012

KITSUNE UDON -- Japanese White Wheat Noodles in Soup

Udon are very popular noodles in Japan, but particularly in the city of Osaka to the south. In the Tokyo area, Soba (buckwheat noodles) are more popular, as well as soups made darker with more soy sauce. I grew up in Tokyo, but Osaka-style soup is lighter and more delicate to my taste, plus I find it easier to digest than typical (Italian-style) pasta and soba noodles. 

KITSUNE means fox in Japanese, and it is used for the name of fried tofu pouches, the color of which looks like fox fur. This style of tofu is also used for Inari sushi (aka "fox pockets"), popular among children, with the sushi rice stuffed inside the tofu pouches. Inari sushi also has sugar added, which makes it sweeter (probably why kids like it).

Paired with green tea, this udon soup is relatively low in calories and fat (only what remains in the tofu after rinsing).

KITSUNE UDON, Japanese White Wheat Noodles in Soup
Serves about 5-6

1 pound Japanese Udon noodles (dried white-wheat noodles)
2 quarts Dashi (Japanese stock or light vegetable stock of your choice)
1 bag (12 ounces) cleaned baby spinach, blanched and squeezed (to press out the water)
1 package usu-age, fried tofu pouches (2 pieces)
3 tablespoons Mirin (cooking sake)
2 tablespoons low-sodium/light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar

Shichimi togarashi (Japanese chili seasoning)

Wakame seaweed and/or Tororo Kombu seaweed (optional)
Cooked shiitake mushroom (optional)
2-3-ounces fish cake, e.g., Surimi, sliced (optional)
2 stalks scallion, sliced fine (optional)

In a large pot (5-6 quarts) of boiling water, add the noodles (just like cooking spaghetti).
Once water returns to a boil, reduce heat and continue cooking about 10-12 minutes, stirring noodles occasionally to make sure they do not stick together, particularly during the first few minutes.

Meanwhile heat the stock and season with the Mirin, half the soy sauce and pinch of salt. Cook for a minute and keep the soup warm.

Cooking KITSUNE:
Cut fried tofu pouches the size you prefer (about 2 inches wide). Put them in strainer and under hot running water to wash off the oil for 10 seconds. Place the tofu in a medium saucepan, add 1 cup of the stock and the additional 1 Tbsp soy sauce, plus a pinch of salt and the sugar. Cook the tofu over low- medium heat about 10 minutes.

When the noodles are done (not al dente, they should be on the softer side), drain the water and distribute the noodles to individual serving bowls. Pour the seasoned stock, spinach and cooked tofu on top of noodles.
Garnish as desired. Serve with a few dashes of Shichi Togarashi.

Note:  For information about Japanese ingredients and stock making, check this wonderful site:
Also another great blog you can see how to make traditional Dashi stock step by step:


  1. I have traveled often to Japan. Good memories are coming back when looking at those pictures. Japanese food always tastes so healthy. Love Udon!!! (only very hard to find in France)

  2. Thank you for the comment. I grew up in Tokyo, so I love Soba (buckwheat noodle)very much. However I eat more Udon in these days. It is easier to digest than buckwheat or ordinarily pasta. You prepare food not only pretty, but very healthy too. Your recipes are great!