If there’s the one thing I could never tire slurping of, it’s this vegan udon noodle soup.
A vegetarian-friendly “dashi” (Japanese soup stock) lends a baseline hum, strummed by meatily-textured mushrooms and eggplant. The bowl is brought together by a healthy dose of udon noodles, which strike a soft and chewy chord!
Bookmark this recipe as one that’s as rich in flavour as it is in comfort. It’s a dish elegant in its simplicity, propped up by the background complexity of umami-rich flavours characteristic of Japanese cuisine.
Starring Ingredients In This Vegan Udon Noodle Bowl
While dashi – Japanese soup stock – is often emboldened with seafood (think dried shrimp, sardines or even scallops), in its simplest (yet oh-so-flavourful) form dashi can be inherently vegan or vegetarian too. Kombu (dried kelp) and dried shiitake mushrooms add a potent punch of umami, with the overall depth of flavour and savouriness supported by an ensemble act of seasonings including mirin and vegan “fysh” sauce (also made with mushrooms and seaweed for an “oceany” flavour).
Vegan Udon Noodle Soup Recipe
All ingredients for this recipe can be sourced through Foodhall India.
For the vegan dashi
- 1½ tbsp sesame oil
- 1 thumb-sized (3 inch) piece of ginger
- 3 – 4 garlic cloves
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 heaping tbsp miso
- 3 – 4 dried red chillies
- 4×4-inch piece of kombu
- Large stalk of lemongrass
- 3 – 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 – 2 carrots, diced
- 1 – 2 leeks, sliced
- 6 cups of water
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp fysh sauce
- 2 dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp ground coriander (optional)
- 1 packet of udon noodles
- 3 – 4 tbsp sesame oil (divided)
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 packet of tofu (silken-firm or extra firm)
- Mushrooms of choice (Baby Bella or Shiitake work well)
- 1 – 2 tbsp Teriyaki sauce (optional)
- cornflour for coating
To make the vegan dashi
- Heat 1½ tbsp sesame oil in a large pot (medium low heat). Sauté the ginger and garlic cloves until fragrant (about a minute). Add the miso and stir to smoothen the paste.
- Add the remaining ingredients for the dashi (water, lemongrass, shiitake mushrooms, kombu, chillies, carrots, leeks, soy sauce, mirin, vegan fysh sauce, honey and a pinch of salt).
- Remove the kombu before the broth comes to a boil (this is essential, as otherwise the broth will be too bitter with an undesirably slimy texture!).
- Once boiling, reduce heat and let the dashi simmer for 30-35 minutes before straining. Taste and adjust as you’d like, for instance adding a splash more soy sauce for an umami kick; or a dash of honey for a subtle sweetness.
To cook the tofu
- Drain the excess water out of the tofu by wrapping the block between paper towels and then gently pressing down to release the water using a steel plate or even a wooden chopping board. Let the tofu sit for at least half an hour (ideally an hour) until it is fully drained and firm enough,
- Then, cut it into cubes or long rectangular strips and coat it with cornflour.
- Head a tbsp of sesame oil in a skillet and pan-fry the tofu for 7 – 10 minutes , flipping the pieces over until they’re golden brown and crisp on both sides. Remove from heat and set aside.
To cook the eggplants:
- Cut the eggplants in cubes and immediately soak in water. Set aside for 15 minutes or so, before patting dry with a paper towel.
- Heat a tbsp of oil in a skillet (medium heat). Add the cubed eggplant and sauté until tender and golden-brown (be careful not to overcook the eggplant though as we don’t want a mushy texture!). Add a couple of tablespoons of teriyaki sauce at the end and toss the eggplant pieces until evenly seasoned. Set aside.
To cook the mushrooms
- Thinly slice the mushrooms.
- Heat a tbsp of oil in a skillet (medium heat). Once shimmering, add the mushrooms and stir often, sautéing until the mushrooms have browned and softened with a tender texture. You’ll know they have cooked once the mushrooms release their earthy aroma.
To assemble the dashi
- Cook udon noodles according to packet instructions. Drain and divide among 3 – 4 serving bowls.
- Top with the cooked eggplant, tofu and mushrooms; then ladle the dashi on top. Serve hot!
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