Last week’s homemade udon immediately turned into a satisfying meal of cold noodles dunked in savory sauce, which was perfect for the blazing heat that hit us here in California. You may be familiar with udon served in hot broth as a noodle soup, but in Japan, I had cold udon twice. Those experiences opened up my eyes to the wonders of udon. When udon is served cold, you taste the noodles and savor their chewy texture.
There are a couple of ways to serve cold udon, one of which is just like how you’d serve Japanese soba noodles, atop a zaru bamboo tray, hence the name zaru soba. Zaru udon is what I had in Tokyo and what I prepared at home. After cooking off the homemade udon noodles, I let them sit at room temperature to cool. Meanwhile, I made the sauce and let that cool too.
Don’t be put off by preparing the dashi stock, a requisite for the Japanese kitchen. In the main, I make dashi from scratch, but many people like the convenience of instant dashi powder. If you go for the instant, find one that does not have MSG. This brand, available at Japanese, Korean and some Chinese markets, is what I typically have in my pantry:
You can make dashi and keep it refrigerated for several days. That way, recipes like this one come together in a jiffy. For the garnishes, set them out on small dishes and let guests help themselves and craft their personal set of flavors.