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Kitsune udon is a Japanese noodle dish that can be made deliciously from scratch or from pre-made ingredients. This recipe will tell you how to make kitsune udon from scratch, building up flavor from the base, though I will also tell you the shortcuts. There are several ingredients you may not be familiar with, but don’t worry; I explain what everything is and where to find it below the recipe. There is also an option to make a vegan-friendly kitsune udon and the substitutions for that will be below as well.
“Kitsune” is the Japanese word for “fox” and “udon” refers to the type of noodle (if you want to know more about udon, check out this article). There are a few reasons why this dish is called, essentially, “fox noodles.” The first reason is because the dish, or just the inari age, is a fox’s favorite food. The other reason is that the color of the inari age is similar to the color of a fox.
There are a few things you might want to prepare beforehand, like the dashi stock, so read through the recipe before starting.
- 2 kombu
- 3 cups katsuobushi
- 4 pockets aburaage
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 4 tbsp mirin
- ¼ cup 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 servings udon noodles
- 2 green onions
- All ingredients ready? Let's begin!
- In a large bowl, add 5 cups of water and the kombu. Set aside to soak for at least 30 minutes or up to 5 hours.
- After soaking, pour the water and kombu into a pot and begin to bring to a boil.
- Just before the water actually starts to boil, use cooking tongs to take the kombu out.
- Add the katsuobushi and allow to reach a boil before removing from heat. Let sit and cool for 15 minutes.
- Use a strainer to separate the liquid from the katsuobushi.
- Halfway fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil.
- Set the aburaage on a surface and roll over it with a rolling pin a few times to tenderize it before adding it to the boiling water.
- Cover with a lid and let boil for 5 minutes.
- Remove the aburaage and press it between your hands to remove excess water.
- In a pot, add 1 cup of the previously made dashi. Bring it to a boil before stirring in 2 tbsp of sugar. Allow the sugar to melt before placing the aburaage in.
- Add 3 tbsp of mirin and ¼ cup of soy sauce. Bring it to a boil again, then reduce heat to medium low. Cover with a lid and let simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool. When it is cool enough to touch, remove the aburaage and squeeze between your hands again to remove excess liquid. You want it to be wet but not dripping.
- Add 2 ½ cups of dashi, and the rest of the mirin, sugar, and soy sauce into a pot. Bring to a boil then turn the heat to low. Put a lid on top and leave to simmer while you prepare the rest.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
- While waiting on the pot to boil, finely chop the green onions and cut the narutomaki into thin slices.
- Once the water reaches a boil, cook your noodles according to the package. Dry noodles will take longer while frozen or refrigerated noodles will cook quickly.
- Once the noodles have cooked, strain them well.
- To serve: divide the noodles into bowls and evenly split the broth between the bowls. Place a piece of inari age on top and garnish with a couple slices of narutomaki, and a sprinkle of green onions.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
Notes & Tips
- If you want to add an extra kick to your kitsune udon, sprinkle schichimi togarashi (a chili-based seasoning) on top.
- If you follow this recipe exactly, you should end up with a little extra dashi, plus the liquid from making the inari age. You can add the excess to your udon bowl for extra flavor or save it for use in other recipes.
- Leftover noodles can be refrigerated in the broth for a few days.
Substitutions & Alterations
Making kitsune udon vegan-friendly is simple. When making the dashi stock, do not add katsuobushi after removing the kombu. Leave out the narutomaki. Everything else should already be vegan (though you may want to check your individual ingredients to be sure).
Instead of making the inari age yourself, you can buy it premade. You can also sometimes find premade dashi.
What Are The Ingredients?
Kombu is a kind of kelp, like seaweed. Kombu comes in thicker slices than the thin sushi seaweed wraps so it is better for cooking and adding flavor.
Katsuobushi is also commonly referred to as bonito flakes. It is dried and treated fish flakes made from tuna. It helps infuse flavor into recipes.
Aburaage is deep-fried tofu that has pockets like pita bread. It is the kind of tofu you will need in order to make your own inari age. This is the favorite food of foxes.
Inari age is basically aburaage that has been cooked with soy sauce, sugar, and mirin to make it extra flavorful.
Mirin is a Japanese rice wine used in cooking. It can be substituted with sake, but mirin is sweeter. If you do not have any or prefer not to cook with alcohol, you can use rice vinegar with some extra sugar.
Narutomaki is a fish paste topping that has a pretty pink swirl on the inside and makes noodle dishes look super tantalizing. It comes in the shape of a log and you can cut slices of it for your dishes.
Where To Find The Ingredients?
A lot of this will only be found at an Asian food store. Some small shops may not have all these ingredients still, so you may need to look farther afield or find a shop online that can deliver.