Recipe: Easy Udon or Soba in Broth

This is another of my quick one-pot weeknight comfort food favorites. It has 3 main ingredients: kombu, or dried Japanese kelp, shoyu, high-quality Japanese soy sauce; and mirin, Japanese cooking rice wine. You can throw in any number of the extras below to vary the flavor and use up those stray leftover veggies.

All measurements are approximate. I do everything here by taste.

Total Time: 10-15 minutes
Serves: ~2-4; easily multiplied
5 cups water
1 strip kombu
~ 4 T shoyu
~ 2-4 T mirin, other rice wine, white wine, or rice wine vinegar
1/2-1 8oz package soba or udon (depending on how much other stuff you’re adding)

To Make the Noodles and Broth:
Bring water to a boil. Add kombu and simmer for 4 minutes. Remove. Cook noodles in broth according to package instructions. While noodles are simmering, add shoyu, mirin, and any of the optional ingredients below. Experiment!

Add Optional Seasonings:
– 1-3 teaspoons agave or sugar (Agave works beautifully here without cloying sweetness)
– 1-2 T umeboshi plum vinegar or rice vinegar
– ponzu sauce (Japanese dipping sauce)
– lemon or lime juice
– peeled, grated ginger
– chiles or crushed red pepper flakes
– bonito flakes
– chopped reconstituted dried mushrooms and their soaking water
– miso

Add Optional Protein:
– 1-2 eggs, with or without yolks, beaten and stirred in vigorously while broth boils (raise heat from a simmer)
– cubed tofu
– cubed or shredded seitan
– chicken, meat, or fish, added directly to broth and cooked through

Add Optional Veggies to Broth or As Garnish:
– mushrooms
– scallions
– grated or sliced carrot
– mung bean or soy sprouts
– peeled, grated ginger
– grated daikon or other radish
– wakame flakes, hijiki, or other seaweed (also adds a hit of protein!)
– broccoli florets
– bok choy, spinach, or kale, coarsely chopped
– blanched sweet potato
– corn or baby corn
– umeboshi plums

Finish Your Beautiful, Steaming Bowl with Any of these Garnishes:
– toasted sesame seeds or gomasio (Japanese sesame seed and sea salt blend)
– lemon, lime, or orange zest
– handful of parsley and/or cilantro
– crushed cashews, peanuts, walnuts, or toasted almonds
– toasted sesame oil, drizzled into individual bowls