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Milk Street Recipe
Milk Street Bowtie Homemade Udon Noodles

Homemade Udon Noodles

Appears in March-April 2022

4 hours 1½ hours active

Homemade Udon Noodles

Free

Udon is a type of Japanese wheat noodle. The thick, chewy strands can be served in hot soup, eaten cold with dipping sauce, stir-fried or simply sauced. When adapting Sonoko Sakai’s udon formula from her book, “Japanese Home Cooking,” we found that the brand of flour used and relative humidity can impact how much water is needed to make the noodle dough. For best results, the dough should be on the dry side and should contain just enough moisture so it holds together shaggily; if needed, work in more water 1 tablespoon at a time, but err on the side of dry rather than wet. With resting and kneading, the dough will hydrate and become smooth, silky and elastic. The classic way to knead dough for udon is to stomp on it by foot, a good—and fun!—way to develop strong gluten structure; we put the dough in a doubled heavy-duty plastic bag before stepping on it (without shoes, of course) to ensure everything stays clean. If you find the dough is difficult to roll because of its elasticity, allow it intermittent rests. You can alternate between the two pieces, rolling one while the other relaxes. Do aim for a ⅛-inch thickness so the noodles aren’t too thick; they expand when boiled. Unlike most fresh noodles, this udon requires lengthy cooking—about 15 minutes of boiling—to attain the correct texture.

Makes about 1¾ pounds uncooked (about 3 pounds cooked)

Noodles

Tip

Don’t salt the cooking water for the udon. The noodles themselves contain a good amount of sodium (it helps develop structure and chewiness), so if the water is also salted, the noodles may end up overseasoned. After draining the noodles, it’s important to rinse them under running cold water to wash off excess starch and stop the cooking.

4 hours

1½ hours active

25 grams (1½ tablespoons) table salt
1 cup warm water (about 100°F)
520 grams (4 cups) all-purpose flour
Cornstarch, for dusting
Ingredients
  • 25

    grams (1½ tablespoons) table salt

  • 1

    cup warm water (about 100°F)

  • 520

    grams (4 cups) all-purpose flour

  • Cornstarch, for dusting

Directions
  1. 01
    In a small bowl or a measuring cup, mix together the salt and warm water until the salt dissolves. Put the flour in a large bowl, add half of the saltwater and mix with a wooden spoon until the water is absorbed. Add the remaining saltwater and mix, using your hands once the water has been absorbed, until a very shaggy dough forms. If the mixture is very dry and won’t come together, mix in additional water 1 tablespoon at a time, but it’s best to err on the side of too little water than too much. Transfer to a 1-gallon heavy-duty zip-close bag, press out the air and partially seal the bag; let rest for 30 minutes.
    See Demo
    Homemade udon noodles 1
  2. 02
    Place the bag with the dough inside another 1-gallon zip-close bag, press out the air and partially seal. Lay the bag on the floor and repeatedly step on the dough with your feet, being careful not to tear or puncture the plastic, until the dough is flattened and fills the bag to the edges.
    See Demo
    Homemade udon noodles 2
  3. 03
    Remove the dough from the bag and set it on the counter. Fold it into thirds like a business letter, return it to the inner bag and partially seal both bags. Repeat the process 4 more times, until the dough is very smooth and elastic; after the fifth pressing, leave the dough flat (do not fold it into thirds).
    See Demo
    11 16 21 CPK 262 CC opt
  4. 04
    Seal the bags and let the dough rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour or refrigerate for up to 1 day (if refrigerated, let the dough stand at room temperature for about 1 hour before proceeding).
    See Demo
    11 16 21 CPK 274 CC opt
  5. 05
    Lightly dust a rimmed baking sheet and the counter with cornstarch. Remove the dough from the bags and set it on the counter. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough in half. Return one piece to the inner bag and seal it.
    See Demo
    11 16 21 CPK 280 CC opt
  6. 06
    Using a rolling pin, roll out the second piece until it is ⅛ inch thick. The shape of the rolled dough doesn’t matter; it’s more important that the dough be of an even thickness. Dust the surface of the dough with cornstarch, then accordion-fold the dough into thirds; set it on a cutting board.
    See Demo
    11 16 21 CPK 288 CC opt
  7. 07
    Using a chef’s knife and a decisive cutting motion (do not use a sawing action), cut the dough crosswise into ⅛-inch-wide noodles. Unfold the noodles and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet, gently separating them; toss to lightly coat with cornstarch and cover with a kitchen towel. Roll and cut the remaining dough in the same way.
    See Demo
    Homemade udon noodles 3
  8. 08
    In a large (at least 8-quart) pot, bring 5 quarts water to a boil. Using your hands, add the noodles to the pot, shaking them over the baking sheet to remove excess starch. Cook, stirring occasionally, until a noodle rinsed under cold water is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse the noodles under running cold water and drain again.
    See Demo
    Homemade udon noodles 4
Tip: Don’t salt the cooking water for the udon. The noodles themselves contain a good amount of sodium (it helps develop structure and chewiness), so if the water is also salted, the noodles may end up overseasoned. After draining the noodles, it’s important to rinse them under running cold water to wash off excess starch and stop the cooking.
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Homemade Udon Noodles

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Makes about 1¾ pounds uncooked (about 3 pounds cooked)

Noodles

4 hours

1½ hours active

Tip

Don’t salt the cooking water for the udon. The noodles themselves contain a good amount of sodium (it helps develop structure and chewiness), so if the water is also salted, the noodles may end up overseasoned. After draining the noodles, it’s important to rinse them under running cold water to wash off excess starch and stop the cooking.

Ingredients
  • 25

    grams (1½ tablespoons) table salt

  • 1

    cup warm water (about 100°F)

  • 520

    grams (4 cups) all-purpose flour

  • Cornstarch, for dusting

Step 1 of 8

Make the Dough

25
grams (1½ tablespoons) table salt
1
cup warm water (about 100°F)
520
grams (4 cups) all-purpose flour

In a small bowl or a measuring cup, mix together the salt and warm water until the salt dissolves. Put the flour in a large bowl, add half of the saltwater and mix with a wooden spoon until the water is absorbed.


Add the remaining saltwater and mix, using your hands once the water has been absorbed, until a very shaggy dough forms. If the mixture is very dry and won’t come together, mix in additional water 1 tablespoon at a time, but it’s best to err on the side of too little water than too much.


Transfer to a 1-gallon heavy-duty zip-close bag, press out the air and partially seal the bag; let rest for 30 minutes.

Step 2 of 8

Step on the Dough

Place the bag with the dough inside another 1-gallon zip-close bag, press out the air and partially seal. Lay the bag on the floor and repeatedly step on the dough with your feet, being careful not to tear or puncture the plastic, until the dough is flattened and fills the bag to the edges.

Step 3 of 8

Fold the Dough

Remove the dough from the bag and set it on the counter. Fold it into thirds like a business letter, return it to the inner bag and partially seal both bags. Repeat the process 4 more times, until the dough is very smooth and elastic; after the fifth pressing, leave the dough flat (do not fold it into thirds).

Step 4 of 8

Let Rest

Seal the bags and let the dough rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour or refrigerate for up to 1 day (if refrigerated, let the dough stand at room temperature for about 1 hour before proceeding).

Step 5 of 8

Cut Dough in Half

Cornstarch, for dusting

Lightly dust a rimmed baking sheet and the counter with cornstarch. Remove the dough from the bags and set it on the counter. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough in half. Return one piece to the inner bag and seal it.

Step 6 of 8

Roll the Dough

Using a rolling pin, roll out the second piece until it is ⅛ inch thick. The shape of the rolled dough doesn’t matter; it’s more important that the dough be of an even thickness. Dust the surface of the dough with cornstarch, then accordion-fold the dough into thirds; set it on a cutting board.

Step 7 of 8

Cut the Dough

Using a chef’s knife and a decisive cutting motion (do not use a sawing action), cut the dough crosswise into ⅛-inch-wide noodles. Unfold the noodles and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet, gently separating them; toss to lightly coat with cornstarch and cover with a kitchen towel.


Roll and cut the remaining dough in the same way.

Step 8 of 8

Cook the Noodles

5
quarts water

In a large (at least 8-quart) pot, bring 5 quarts water to a boil. Using your hands, add the noodles to the pot, shaking them over the baking sheet to remove excess starch. Cook, stirring occasionally, until a noodle rinsed under cold water is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse the noodles under running cold water and drain again.

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