Japanese Noodles with Shiitakes and Sesame

Udon noodles have a slightly different texture than the wheat noodles of other countries, but you con substitute Chinese wheat noodles or Italian pasta-spaghetti, capellini, linguine, or fettuccine are the best shapes. Somen noodles are also good in this stock, but be especially careful not to overcook them.

Yield: about 4 servings


  • 1 pound udon (Japanese wheat) or soba (buckwheat) noodles
  • 4 cups Dashi (see below), or not overly strong chicken, shrimp, or vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup mild soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt, if needed
  • 1/3 cup lightly Toasted Sesame Seeds (see below)
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger(optional)


  • 1 quart cold water
  • 1 (6-to-8-inch) piece kombu (kelp)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup dried bonito flakes
    1. Combine the water and kombu in a 2-to-3-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Allow to come almost to a boil; if the kombu is tender, remove it. If not, add a little cold water and cook for a few more minutes. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove the kombu (you can use it in stir-fries or soups) and turn off the heat.
    2. Add the bonito flakes to the mixture and let it sit for a minute or two longer. Strain the stock, pressing the flakes to extract as much liquid as possible. Use the stock immediately, or refrigerate for a day or two.

    Toasted Sesame Seeds

  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
    1. Place seeds in a dry skillet just large enough to contain them in one layer and turn the heat to medium.
    2. Cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the seeds darken in color and begin to pop, 5 to 10 minutes. Cool sligtly before using.


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and cook the noodles until they are just tender-a little bit underdone. Drain and rinse them with cold water.

2. Soak 2 or 3 dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes. While the noodles are cooking, heat the stock and add to it the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar; stir to combine. Taste and add salt if necessary. Add the soaking liquid from the mushrooms to the stock. Keep the stock hot but do not let it boil. Trim the mushrooms of any hard spots, then cut them into thin slices. Add them to the stock and proceed as above. When the noodles are done, reheat them gently in the stock. When the noodles and stock are combined, drizzle with 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil. Ladle portions of noodles and soup into individual bowls. Garnish with Toasted Sesame Seeds, and serve immediately.

From How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman
Copyrightę 1998 by Mark Bittman
Permission by Macmillan
New York, NY