■ What makes udon so delicious?
Udon is made with simple ingredients; just flour, water, and salt.
Even with such simple ingredients, you are able to enjoy a chewy yet smooth texture. This is due to the perfect combination of water, salt, wheat starch and gluten.Generally, when you’re making udon noodles you add some salt in addition to the flour and water. Doing this binds the gluten in the flour and increases the elasticity of the dough. Adding salt water to the flour and kneading it helps to form a mesh-like glutinous structure to meld with the dough. The resulting material is more resilient and firm than when just using water, and also gives udon it’s smooth, chewy texture.
■ Common ways to enjoy udon
If you’re eating udon in a soup broth, all you do is scoop them up with your chopsticks and slurp.
When you're eating udon with the broth and topping in separate dishes, you take the udon and toppings and mix them in with the broth.
Add condiments like onion, ginger, and togarashi (Japanese chili pepper) to change the flavor.
Udon noodles tend to get progressively soggy, so try and enjoy them as quickly as possible.
Popular toppings include tempura, aburaage (deep fried tofu), egg, wakame seaweed, meat, mountain greens, grated daikon, and grated yam.
■ A huge variety of menus
Besides the above standard combinations, you can create a huge variety of menus out of udon, and even enjoy strange twists eaten in different regions of Japan. Feel free to experiment with the standard seasonings in pasta, or fry the udon.
■ Rare varieties of local udon
Among the multiple varieties of udon, in places like Kyoto and Saitama, they also have a long single-noodle type udon about the thickness of your thumb.
This type of udon is made extremely thick (approx. 1.5cm around) and long (30-40cm) compared to regular udon.
This type of udon is made with the hope that the person who eats it will live a long and prosperous life. It is also an attempt to recreate a similar dish that appears in a series of novels set in the Edo period called "Onihei hankachô" (Onihei's Crime Diary) which are popular in Japan.