Udon is a type of noodle made of wheat flour, kneaded and cut into long, fairly thick strips. It has been a part of Japanese cuisine since ancient times. The ingredients and preparation of udon dishes, as well as the size, shape and texture of the noodles themselves, vary greatly according to region.
The origin of udon is up for debate. Some scholars date the first appearance of udon in Japan back to the Nara period (710-794), when Japanese envoys to China were introduced to sweets made from wheat flour dough. It is said that they brought flour back to Japan and used it to make boiled cakes filled with red bean paste, known as konton. The name eventually changed to unton, and finally udon, along with the change from a boiled pastry to the thick noodles that we know today.
Other scholars say that the noodle was imported during the Heian period (794-1185), or even as late as the Kamakura period (1185-1333), when flour milling technology was introduced to Japan, but most tend to agree that they originate from China, where a very similar noodle called cumian can be found today. Some sources say udon was the commoners’ cheap substitution for the rice-centered meals of the upper class, though it was probably mainly eaten by the upper class when it first appeared.
In the olden days, udon noodles were often served as a remedy for the common cold. Piping hot udon is easy to digest and good for warming up the body, and the dashi broth it’s served in is nourishing in and of itself. It was said that a hot bowl of udon, some warm blankets, medicine and a good night’s sleep were the surest cure for the common cold, a belief that many Japanese people still practice today.
There are countless ways to prepare and serve udon, but this recipe is based on the simple kake udon (noodles in hot broth), topped with negi and egg.
Put the dashi broth into a large pot and bring to the boil. Add the mirin and soy sauce.
Pour the egg in, add the negi and cook for 1 additional minute. Serve hot!