Neither of us had much exposure to Asian/Asian-inspired cuisine growing up. I’d make the easy stuff (fried rice, pot stickers, some sushi, Mongolian beef) but I leave the “real stuff” to the pros. I pretty much cower at the thought of making most of the dishes at home – especially those recipes that are peppered with “I actually had to Google that” items. Kombu? Mirin? Hon dashi? What?
I ran across a video demo on The Chronicle late last week for Benjy’s Beef Udon. It’s a mountain of noodles, broth, veggies, and spicy beef with a trendy egg on top. Had I only read a printed copy of the recipe, I probably would have stopped at “kombu,” crinkled my nose, and then turned the page. But instead, I had the chef’s demo in front of me, some recommendations for a couple of Asian food markets to find the “Google-worthy” ingredients, and a picture of a spectacular looking bowl o’ noodles burned into my mind.
I watched the video over and over, scribbling notes, pausing to scribble more notes, and then replaying to make sure we got it all. Exact measurements weren’t given for everything (just the full-scale broth recipe, which is huge!) but I filled in the vague details enough to turn out a super tasty soup, perfect for a chilly December day.
Spicy Beef Udon
A beautiful bowl of Asian noodles loaded with spicy beef, roasted mushrooms, and vegetables.
- For the beef:
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 lb flank steak, sliced thinly against the grain (the chef used outside skirt)
- 1 Tbsp oil, for frying
- For the broth:
- 1 sheet kombu*
- 4 qt chicken stock
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup mirin*
- 1 tsp hon dashi powder*
- pinch of salt
- The full-scale recipe was given for the broth. I made 1/4 batch.
- For the soup:
- 1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Pinch of salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1 pkg frozen udon noodles**
- 1 bunch baby bok choy, washed thoroughly
- 1 cup sugar snap peas
- 1 red bell pepper, julienned
- 1 Tbsp butter or oil
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup fresh sprouts, for garnish
- 3 green onions, chopped for garnish
- Chili oil, for garnish
- *I had to go to a large Asian food market to locate.
- **The frozen udon I found was portioned into individual servings, 5oz each - cook 1 package for each bowl.
- Make the beef: Whisk the beef marinade ingredients together and then toss with steak. Let sit for at least 30 minutes (I let it sit in the fridge overnight). Heat oil over high heat. Remove steak from marinade and cook until browned and caramelized on each side.
- Make the broth: With a damp towel, wipe the excess salt from the kombu and place it in a large pot. Add chicken stock, soy sauce, rice vinegar, hon dashi, and salt to the pot. Bring to a simmer and hold until ready to serve (do not boil).
- Roast the mushrooms: Preheat oven to 400. Remove stems and slice mushroom caps into 1/4-inch slices. Toss slices with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a couple grinds black pepper. Roast on a greased/lined baking sheet for 8-12 minutes, until nicely browned. Set aside until ready to assemble soup.
- Cook the noodles/vegetables: Bring a pot of water to boil. Drop in frozen udon noodles and cook according to package instructions (I went 60 seconds). Drain noodles. Add the bok choy, peas, and red bell pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes (you can do this individually by ingredient or all together). Drain veggies.
- Finish and assemble the soup: Heat 1 Tbsp butter or oil in a saute pan. Cook the eggs sunny-side up. Divide noodles equally among 4 serving bowls. Arrange mushrooms, bok choy, peas, red bell pepper, and beef on top of the noodles. Top each bowl with an egg. Gently ladle the hot broth over the egg and garnish with fresh sprouts, green onions, and a drizzle of chili oil.
Yields: 4 generous servings
Estimated time: 90 minutes