I’m going to keep this post short and sweet since it’s already Thursday, making this week’s recipe three days late as is. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have caught that I spent last weekend in Puerto Rico for a friend’s bachelorette party, so I’m still playing catch-up from having four days off.
Puerto Rico exceeded all my expectations, and then some. Throughout the weekend, I got the mandatory white girl sunburn, ate my weight in mofongo with pernil, and lived out my teenage Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights fantasy of dancing sweaty salsa in a real salsa club – YAY! But most importantly, my friends and I fell totally in love with the island. First, there’s the perfect weather – it’s always warm with a gentle ocean breeze. And then there are the people. The inhabitants of Puerto Rico are, hands-down, the nicest, most hospitable population I’ve ever encountered. Everyone we met was so smiley, so warm, so proud of their culture, and so eager to share it with others. Living in New York, it is almost impossible to have a great conversation with a stranger, seeing as the first question is always, “So what do you do?” But in PR, a simple hello can turn into a 20-minute intellectual discussion, before you even ask for each other’s names. It’s truly an amazing place, and I can’t wait to go back.
Still dreaming of you, Old San Juan…
Now on to the recipe, which comes from my Weeknight Cooking e-book. Sorry to my friends lo mein and ramen, but as far as Asian noodles go, udon is bae. These thick, chewy Japanese noodles are typically served as a saucy indulgent situation, or in a thin broth with meat and vegetables. Here, they are dressed simply with thinly sliced shiitakes, soy sauce and sesame oil, and served with probiotic-rich kimchi and spicy scallions. Fresh noodles from the refrigerated section of the grocery store are the best but usually hard to find. Dried udon is more common and will get the job done, too. This udon recipe is one of my go-to guilt-free alternatives for Asian takeout.
- 8 ounces dried udon noodles
- Sea salt
- 1 tablespoon canola oil, or other neutral-tasting oil
- 8 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- ¾ cup kimchi
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- Start by cooking udon in salted water according to package directions. Cook just short of al dente, and reserve 1 cup of noodle cooking water before draining. Drain noodles, rinse under lukewarm water, and set aside.
- While udon is cooking, prepare the mushrooms: heat cooking oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, season with a pinch of salt, and cook until mushrooms are softened and browned, 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add cooked udon to mushrooms, along with soy sauce, sesame oil and ¼ cup reserved noodle water. Stir to combine. The noodles should be silky and saucy; add more noodle water to achieve desired consistency, if needed. Taste noodles and adjust seasonings, if needed.
- To serve, divide noodles among 4 bowls and top with kimchi and scallions.