Tanuki Udon literally translates to Raccoon Dog Noodles in Japanese, but don’t worry. There are no raccoon dogs in this recipe. It is actually a noodle soup prepared with the thick udon noodles and a variety of toppings. It is traditionally a warm dish, but this version is chilled for the summer. You can make it hot, just drop the “hiyashi” (meaning chilled) from the name. I topped the udon with boiled eggs, green onions, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, grated daikon, wakame seaweed, and tenkasu.
Noodle dishes in Tokyo are called Tanuki when they have Tenkasu (Tempura crumbs). These crisp little pieces of fried batter are the by-product of frying tempura. You can collect the leftover after frying a batch of tempura or buy prepackaged crumbs. They are available in some Asian supermarkets that specialize in Japanese food or you can get them on Amazon: Tenkasu. Add them to the noodles right before you are about to eat. They get soggy the longer they sit in the broth.
Udon are long, thick noodles with a smooth and chewy texture. They are wonderful in stir-fries or soups. I use frozen Sanuki Udon noodles from the Asian Food Market. The frozen noodles cook quickly in boiling water. You can also use dried Sanuki Udon. I just prefer the frozen noodles. They are usually packaged in individual portion bricks. Each brick is about 8 ounces.
I used this recipe from Just One Cookbook to prepare the Mentsuyu. Mentsuyu is a noodle soup base made by simmering together soy sauce, sake, mirin, kombu, and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). This base can be refrigerated for up to a month. To use in the Tanuki Udon, dilute it with 2-3 parts water.
Wakame is an edible seaweed with a slightly sweet flavor. In Japanese cuisine, it is often added to soups and salads. You can find it in the Asian section of many larger supermarkets or Whole Foods. It is also available on Amazon: Emerald Cove Silver Grade Wakame (Dried Seaweed), 1.76 Ounce Bag or Wel-Pac – Fueru Wakame (Dried Seaweed) Net Wt. 2 Oz. (Pack of 4). It is either packaged in large pieces or thin sheets. Mine came in large pieces, so I had to soak it before cutting into thin strips.
Japanese cucumbers are long and slender with less seeds than garden cucumbers. If you are unable to find Japanese cucumbers, you can also use Persian or remove the seeds and peel the garden or English cucumbers.
Hiyashi Tanuki Udon (Japanese Chilled Raccoon Dog Udon)
Adapted from Just One Cookbook
2/3 cup Mentsuyu
4 bricks frozen Udon
4 teaspoons shredded Wakame
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 Japanese cucumbers, peeled in strips and julienned
4 inches (the top part) daikon radish, peeled and grated
1 cup Tenkasu (Tempura crumbs)
2-4 soft or hard boiled eggs, halved
8 grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon toasted white sesame seeds
Wasabi to taste
Dilute the Mentsuyu with 2-3 times water. Refrigerated until the noodles are prepared.
In a small bowl, soak the wake in water for 15 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water and set aside.
Squeeze the excess water from the grated daikon and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a large bowl of ice water nearby. Add the udon to the boiling water and cook until just tender, al dente. Remove the noodles and place in the ice bath. Once cooled, drain and divide among four bowls.
Divide the toppings equally over the noodles. Sour in the diluted, refrigerated Mentsuyu and serve immediately.