Every year as a kid, I went with my half-Japanese cousins to the summer Obon Festival, where I got my annual fix of udon, tempura and mochi. My Mexican grandma liked the mochi so much, she found a recipe and started making it herself! (Not very well, unfortunately.) But the udon was a once-a-year treat. I remember thinking that the soup had pink-dyed hard boiled eggs in it, not knowing until years later that the delicious, slightly rubbery white slices were actually fish cake. Our Shichimi Togarashi blend is a perfect match for soups like this, adding a citrusy spicy kick to the savory umami-ness of the dashi.
This recipe involves making your own dashi (involves overnight soaking), but takes a shortcut with frozen shrimp tempura (available at Trader Joe's or Costco). You could substitute chicken, salmon, tofu or make your own tempura! You could also use an instant dashi, although it's kind of fun and extra tasty to make your own. Locally, you can find bonito flakes, kombu, mirin, instant dashi and fish cake at Koreana Plaza. Recipe adapted from Just One Cookbook.
4 cups water
4x3" sheet of kombu (a dried seaweed specifically used for dashi)
1 cup dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sake
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt
1 fish cake (kamaboko), cut into 1/4" slices
4 frozen shrimp tempura
a handful of greens (spinach, chard or baby kale)
1 green onion, thinly sliced
7 oz soba or udon noodles
Shichimi Togarashi for sprinkling
Soak the kombu in the water overnight.
When you're ready to start preparing the meal, preheat the oven to bake the shrimp tempura according to package directions. Pop the tempura in when the oven is ready.
Meanwhile, transfer the kombu and the water to a saucepan and bring it to just boiling. Remove the kombu from the water and discard. Add the bonito flakes to the water and simmer for 30 seconds. Then turn off the heat and let the mixture steep for about 10 minutes. Strain the dashi, squeezing as much liquid as you can from the bonito flakes. Discard the bonito flakes and return the dashi to the saucepan.
Add mirin, sake, soy sauce, and salt to the dashi and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
Cook the noodles according to package directions and rinse. Bring the dashi back up to a boil. Add the greens, stirring until they are tender (about 30 seconds). Remove from heat.
To serve, pour hot dashi over the noodles in each individual bowl. Garnish with fish cake, scallions, shrimp tempura and Shichimi Togarashi.