Friday, December 11, 2015

Recipe: City, O' City Udon Noodle Bowl

The best vegetarian restaurant in Denver is called City, O' City. Literally everything on the menu is phenomenal. Go! But the best thing they serve is their udon noodle bowl. It's so good, I acquired a minor obsession with imitating it. So I brought to-go orders of the soup home to hone my own recipe. The result is a replica so close that I wouldn't be able to tell the difference in a blind tasting. Unfortunately, you have to go to the restaurant itself to engage in sarcastic banter with smug hipsters. I couldn't seem to recreate that part at home.

Prep time: 2 cocktails

250 grams (8 ounces) dry Udon noodles
A 6-inch square sheet of kombu (available at any Asian grocer)
1 1/2" piece of ginger cut into a few thin wheels
5 TBSP soy sauce
3 TBSP rice cooking wine
3 TBSP light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
3 TBSP untoasted sesame oil
3 tsp rice vinegar
2 large scallions, chopped
3-5 shitake or crimini mushrooms, sliced
3 TBSP corn starch
Handful of cubed silken tofu, optional
Handful of veggies sautéed in a bit of untoasted sesame oil and a dash of soy sauce, optional (fennel, shredded carrots, chopped napa cabbage, and sliced celery are all great)
A raw egg, optional

Combine the kombu, ginger and 4 cups of cold water in a pot (if kombu won't fit in your pot cut it into a few pieces with kitchen shears. Turn the heat to high and warm the water to the point just before it starts to boil. Remove from heat and immediately remove the kombu. Let sit 3-4 minutes, then fish out the ginger. Now this cool for about 15 minutes.

As the stock cools, prepare the udon noodles. Fill a pot with cold water and the noodles. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally and boil until the noodles are at eating texture. Immediately drain and run under cold water until the noodles are cold. Set noodles aside.

Returning to the kombu liquid, put it back on medium-high heat, add soy sauce, rice wine, brown sugar, salt, sesame oil, rice vinegar, mushrooms, and scallions. Bring it to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

As soon as you do this, whisk the cornstarch in 1/4 cup water until totally dissolved. Stir this into the soup. Now stir in noodles and sautéed veggies and/or tofu if you're using. Serve with the raw egg floating in the soup, if you want that as well.

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