If you drive on the freeways in Korea, you will find many rest areas along the road. Most of them have food stalls where you can purchase quick meals and snacks. This Kimchi Udon (김치우동) is one of the popular menu. Feeding yourself a bowl of hot udon in the middle of long winter journey? I call it – ‘Kimchi Udon Soup for the Soul’.
I miss the humble udon that you buy at those food stalls. I even miss hearing the loud slurping sounds from the strangers sitting next to me.
I miss the combination flavor of dashi and the pungent bite of kimchi.
I miss hearing to kitchen ladies in the food stall yelling at the customers to hurry up and pick up their noodles… “아줌마, 우동나왔어요! – Lady, come and get your udon!”
I used to eat Kimchi Udon quite often as I was growing up, especially during the colder months.
When the icy ocean wind of cold winter blows at your cheeks like a knife and your nose turns its shade to the one like Rudolph’s, there was nothing like slurping hot noodle soup at the street vendors or in the market squares. It immediately warmed my near frozen body. There was no spoon. Only a pair of chopsticks was all you needed. You just gulp the broth directly out of the bowl as you enjoy the noodles. Comfort food like this… it comes closer to your heart.
Making this Kimchi Udon is not that difficult. Get the delicious broth (dashi) ready, then everything else is a snap to put together. This is the Japanese-Korean fusion comfort food at its best.
This is Bonito flakes. Feather thin Japanese sardine/tuna type fish flakes to make dashi (broth). It is also called Katsuobushi (かつおぶし). If you don’t have bonito, use large dried anchovies.
In a pot, pour water and add bonito, dried sea kelp (Kombu), and Asian leek (or onion). Bring them to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Cook together over medium to med-low until soft, about 3-4 minutes.
It is almost impossible to eat Udon without making the loud slurping noise.
And, I think…, it is very excusable.
- 2 handful of Bonito or 8-10 large dried anchovies
- 1 large piece dried sea kelp, kombu
- 1 leek, sliced
- 8 cups water
- 2-3 tablespoon Tsuyu or soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon salt (or more)
- 1 cup chopped fermented cabbage kimchi
- ¼ cup kimchi juice
- 2 teaspoon Korean chili flakes
- 2 handful roasted seaweed, sliced
- ½ cup fried bean curd, sliced
- 2 green onion, sliced
- 4 packages Udon noodles
- In a large pot put bonito, sea kelp, leek and pour 8 cups of water. Bring to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Drain the broth to reserve and discard the rest. Season with Tsuyu and salt. Adjust seasoning to your taste. Keep the broth warm.
- Meanwhile, combine kimchi, kimchi juice, and chili flakes in a small skillet. Cook over medium to med-low heat for 3- minutes until tender.
- Cook udon noodles in the boiling water for 2 minutes or follow the package direction.
- Place each serving amount of noodles in a bowl and pour the broth over to immerse the noodles. Top with each topping over the noodles. Serve hot.