Beef & Broccoli Udon

There's something about the slippery ribbons and moist chewiness of udon noodles that feels like a little game of claw machine: as if each strand is telling my hand to catch as much as I can, while my mouth is multitasking between salivating and slurping.


I had some udon packets stored in the fridge pre-ECQ (enhanced community quarantine -- for my non-Filipino friends, it's pretty much the same as circuit breaker in Singapore and shelter in place in the USA), so that was a relief. There was a sealed container of beef broth as well, something I had made two weeks earlier, made from ground beef and discarded vegetable stems*, so that works. All I needed were other ingredients for the "buildup": dashi -- sadly none in the pantry, but maybe I could substitute it with miso paste. Chilli flakes could replace furakake, nori strips: yes, thank goodness for weird impulse purchases.


For vegetables, I am always partial to broccoli; it's a sturdy vegetable that holds well in stir-fries and can be added to almost any dish. For meat, there were fillet, cutlets and ground ones, so I made do with ground beef.


*I try to minimise food waste as much as I can by keeping shells, skin and stems to use in broth and soup stock. Prawn shells, for example, may be used as a base for seafood soup or stew, like the gumbo recipe I shared last week. You can also keep potato skin for baked crisps, and so on.


Another tip: if you are using less than half of an onion, and don't want to keep the rest in the fridge because of its smell, you can pot the onion in soil, water it in half a cup, and leave it at your balcony or near a window with the most sunlight. Your onion will grow into spring onions after a few weeks, which you can use for noodle dishes and rice porridge.


 

Cooking time: 30 minutes for the stir-fry; 3-4 hours for the broth (you can split the cooking times for either, unless you want to devote half a day to do both)


Serves: 3-4 persons


Ingredients:


for the broth

3 litres of water

2 tablespoons sea salt or rock salt

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

100 grams ground beef

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon white pepper powder

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2-3 cups of broccoli and cauliflower stems (the ones that are thicker and have leaves), weeks-old vegetables that are starting to sog a bit

1 onion, finely chopped


Make the broth beforehand, be it half a day, 24 hours, a few days or weeks earlier in a stockpot. You can adjust the water and spice level later on, but for now, you can just make a generic soup stock which you can then store in plastic or glass containers in the freezer for future use.

The photo from the stockpot was too shadowy, so here's a clearer photo of the beef and vegetable broth for visual reference. Those little drops of oil and liquified meat fat are important, as they serve as a soup base or a baste for future dishes. Just add water, salt and pepper to adjust taste and volume.


Now, back to the stir-fry: for the beef marinade

200 grams ground beef or beef strips

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon yuzu sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

2 centimetre ginger root, finely grated

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1.5 teaspoons white pepper


for the stir-fry

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon miso paste

1 cup water

1 teaspoon salt

450 grams packed udon noodles

2 large eggs

1 cup shimeji mushrooms

1 onion, finely chopped

2 spring onions, cut into 1-2 centimetres

1 pinch chili flakes


1. Mix beef, soy sauce, yuzu sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger and pepper in a bowl. Let stand while you heat up the wok with a cup of salted water. Just as it boils, add udon in, and gently break apart the noodles. Continue to boil for 8 minutes. Remove udon and place in a strainer. Keep the water which has turned a little starchy by now.


2. Add broccoli, both florets and thin stems, into the water, and steam for 5-6 minutes. Remove the florets and put in a strainer. Keep the stems in the water.


3. Add marinated beef, onions and miso paste into the water. Add the sesame oil. Toss to combine and cook for 10 minutes. Lower heat to medium-low. Then toss in udon, broccoli, shimeji mushrooms and chili flakes. Toss for another 5 minutes. Crack 2 eggs at the center of the dish. Let it run then break the egg yolk to blend into the mixture, around 2 minutes.


Turn off heat. Scoop noodles into bowls, add beef broth, and sprinkle spring onions and nori on top.