Gluten-free Japanese recipes: udon soup

Hello new and old readers! I started working full-time in early March teaching a new class and that’s where most of my extra energy and time have gone. Thanks for continuing to check in!

package of udon noodles from Japan

udon noodles from Japan (not gluten-free)

More gluten-free food

Way back at New Year’s, Hitoshi and I hosted a Japanese themed dinner for a variety of guests, all with different dietary needs. No pork and low salt was easy.

Gluten-free? I wasn’t sure what to do with that one. We discovered that it wasn’t as hard to accommodate as I’d thought.

A few posts back, I shared the recipe we used for gluten-free simmered pork belly. The post continues the theme with gluten-free udon soup.

Easy changes

Like the simmered pork belly, it was easy to make gluten-free udon soup by making only a few substitutions for the broth.

The challenge was finding gluten-free noodles. We ended up using thin rice noodles. The first time I tried them I thought they were disgusting and not even close to the satisfying, chewy bite of a good udon noodle. Happily, our guest who can’t eat gluten didn’t think they were so bad.

Dashi stock – katsuo flakes or premade powdered stock?

There is one other potential hurdle for getting broth with a great taste.

We used special giant katsuo (bonito) flakes straight from Japan. This gave the broth its caramel-like colour and full, round flavour.

fish flakes for Japanese soup stock

Katsuo aka bonito (fish flakes)

If you can’t find bonito flakes outside of Japan and don’t have a handy relative or friend in Japan who would gladly send you a bag, you’ll have to use regular dried dashi stock. It comes in a variety of flavors including with and without MSG. If you have a preference, read labels carefully.

Generally speaking, we add about 8 grams of prepared dashi stock per litre of water. We have a version that comes in premeasured packets of 8 grams. We’ve also used loose dashi stock and throw it on the scale to measure it.

A final option is mini katsuo flakes. These are soaked and then the broth is strained into a new pot to continue making the soup. I’ll do another post on dashi and show more of the different types and ways you can make soup broth or dashi.

The recipe

Unless you’re making noodles from scratch, the broth is the only recipe to worry about.

This recipe makes 2 litres of soup – enough to feed 8 adults one small bowl each

  • 2 litres of water
  • 10 large slices of bonito flakes (or 16 grams of dashi powder)
  • 9 tbsp gluten-free Japanese soy sauce (low salt gluten-free soy sauce is fine… if you can find it!)
  • 8 tbsp gluten-free sake or cooking sake (read the label – we’ve seen some containing gluten products. Cooking sake contains salt.)
  • 4 tbsp white table sugar
  1.  Boil the water in a large pot.
  2. Add the bonito flakes and turn down the heat. Boil gently for about five minutes until the water changes colour.
    **If you use dashi powder, add the powder slowly and stir continuously until it is dissolved. If the water is boiling vigorously, the dashi will bubble and burst up from the water when you pour it into the pot so add it slowly.
  3. Add the soy sauce and sake.
  4. Add the sugar and stir well until dissolved.
  5. Gently boil the soup for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, boil water and cook the noodles as per the package directions. Gluten-free noodles can take longer to cook than regular udon noodles, although in both cases, it depends on the brand and type.
  7. Serve the noodles into bowls and pour the broth over the noodles. Serve immediately.
    **If you used large katuso flakes, these can be removed before or after serving. If you want to store broth for the next day, we recommend removing the flakes as the flavour of the broth will continue to intensify. Make sure to store in the fridge.
Japanese fish-based udon soup

gluten-free udon soup broth with regular udon noodles

What’s next?

We also had Caesar Salad with our meal and I adapted a recipe to make it gluten-free and egg-free. Stay posted!

Do you know of any delicious gluten-free udon noodles? Have you tried or made gluten-free udon noodle soup before?

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