Udon in Bonito Broth

udonIn this post I simply want to share a recipe I came up with at work using random things I had on hand to feed myself and a couple co-workers one slow Sunday evening. My French cooking back ground came through in some of the procedure of this Udon noodle soup, but the result still very much follows the Japanese tradition of noodles in broth. For the "guts": 1/2 pound of shrimp, peeled, shells reserved and roughly chopped into bite-size pieces 3/4 pound of Red Snapper fillet cut into 3/4 inch cubes 14 oz. dry Udon 2 oz. Celery heart sliced thin on a bias 2 oz. Leek white, sliced thin 3 oz. baby heirloom Carrots of mixed color or standard baby Carrots, sliced thin on a bias 2 oz. Scallion, sliced thin 2 oz. (3 spears) Asparagus, sliced thin on a bias 1/2 cup Sake or Dry White Vermouth For the broth: 2 quarts water 2 oz. or 56 grams shaved Katsuo (bonito) or 2 tablespoons instant Dashi a 4inch length of Konbu, wiped clean 1 cup light Mirin 1/2 cup Soy Sauce Juice of 1 Lemon Juice of 1 Lime 6 thin slices of fresh Ginger 1 teaspoon minced Garlic reserved Shrimp shells To start: Add the water to a large pot with the Konbu and bring to a simmer. In another large pot bring 3 quarts of salted water (it should taste like sea water) to a boil. Once the Konbu has come to a simmer, add the rest of the broth ingredients and bring back to a simmer. Allow this to steep on low heat for 20-30 minutes and strain, return the liquid to the pot and discard the solids (or make a "second Dashi" by steeping the solids again with the addition of another 1/2 oz. of Katsuobushi, and chill or freeze for use within a month). Coat the bottom of a large saute pan with a small amount of soy or canola oil and place over medium heat. Once heated, add the Leeks, Celery and Carrots and lightly salt, cook over medium heat until the carrots are soft but not thoroughly cooked. Deglaze with the Sake and reduce until the pan is almost dry. At this point add half the Dashi stock to the pan and bring back to a simmer. While that comes back up to a simmer, your other pot of salted water should be boiling. Add the Udon to the water and cook until the Udon is just past el dente. Strain and rinse the noodles under hot water if serving right away, or under cold water to reserve for later use and lightly oil the noodles for storage. All the while keeping an eye on the broth to make sure it doesn't come to a full boil. To finish: Divide the noodles among 4-5 bowls. Add the Shrimp, Red Snapper, and Asparagus to the simmering broth and bring back to a simmer, then kill the heat. Allow this to steep for 3-4 minutes to cook the meats, they won't take long and if cooked on high heat the Shrimp will get rubbery and the fish will fall apart. Divide this evenly into the bowls containing the noodles, top off with a little more of the left over Dashi stock if the noodles aren't almost fully submerged. Sprinkle a generous amount of sliced scallions over the top of each bowl and serve with chopsticks. Place a small bowl of Chili/Garlic paste in the center of the table with a small spoon for guests to use at their discretion. I used Shiso leaves to garnish for the picture, but that's optional, or Lime leaves would be a good substitute. If the three soup recipes I've posted weren't a clue, I am a huge fan of soups, especially Asian soups, and this one came out great. The key is in not overcooking anything so their natural flavors shine through bright and clear. I have a few other great soups in my repertoire, so expect to see those eventually. Until next time, live well and eat better! Jack

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