Tim Anderson

Yaki udon

udon noodles

This dish is becoming a firm family favourite. It makes an excellent, quick, midweek dinner and can be easily adapted to please the fussy tastes of children. This was the dish that I always used to order at Wagamamas. I don’t bother now that I can make it so easily at home but the reduced portion sizes at Wagamamas have put me off going there in any case.

In this recipe everything revolves around the sauce and noodles. You can then freestyle the rest adding whatever vegetables are in your bottom drawer of your fridge. The original recipe (from Tim Anderson’s ‘Nanban – Japanese Soul Food’) adds beansprouts and mushrooms but I generally use cabbage and carrots because I always have those in and everyone in our household likes them. Tim also adds bacon and you could add chicken or prawns if you like, but I prefer to keep it vegetarian.

With regards to the noodles, I use ready made quick cook udon noodles which I buy from Tesco. Loyal followers of this blog may remember that I did once attempt to make my own but this was very hard work (you have to knead and walk on the dough multiple times and then hand roll the noodles!). I generally don’t mind putting in the effort if the end result is fabulous but in this case the final noodles were a bit rugged and rather stodgy.

My children don’t like onion and so I only put the crispy onion and spring onion on the adult plates. Likewise with the sesame seeds. Everyone likes the omelette topping though and the children squabble over who gets the biggest portion of this.

Yaki-udon

Serves 4

  • 4 x 200g cooked udon noodles
  • ½ a cabbage cut into very thin strips
  • 4 carrots sliced lengthways as thinly as possible and then cut into fine strips
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely sliced
  • A thumb sized piece of ginger finely chopped or grated

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • ½ a teaspoon of ground white pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of mirin
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of dashi powder or MSG (optional – obviously don’t use dashi if you’re a vegetarian)

To garnish

  • Thin omelettes cooled and very finely sliced
  • Sesame seeds
  • Crispy fried onions (you can buy these ready made or make your own buy slicing an onion very, very thinly and then frying on a high heat in a lot of oil for 5-10 minutes until brown and crispy. Drain well on kitchen roll before using)
  • The green tops of spring onion

This makes a large amount. You will need a large wok, otherwise cook in two batches.

Heat a little oil in a large wok until hot. Stir fry the carrots for 1-2 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and cabbage and stir fry for another 3-4 minutes until wilted.

Mix up the ingredients for the sauce and add to the pan, then stir in the cooked or straight-to-wok udon noodles. Stir fry for another couple of minutes until heated through and then serve.

Garnish with the sesame seeds, egg, spring onion and crisp fried onion (or any combination of these that you like).

Brown sugar ice cream with a miso caramel swirl

miso caramel ice cream

I don’t own a mobile phone and I’m not on facebook (which I hate) but I do rather uncharacteristically use (and even like) twitter. And I don’t mind admitting that this is mainly to salivate over pictures of beautiful food. Some people may find it super sad but I really am interested in what Nigella (who lives a life of glamour and privilege so far removed from mine) is eating for lunch.

I also follow my almost-neighbour and culinary magician Sat Bains (although I could happily do without the macho gym and gun photos) and he once tweeted a picture of his miso fudge which had me dribbling all over my laptop. I could literally taste how great that flavour combination would be.

Despite not being able to try the real thing (because I’m not wealthy enough to eat at his restaurant on even a yearly basis) the idea stayed imprinted in my brain. Then recently I came across a recipe for miso caramel in Tim Anderson’s new Japanese cookbook ‘Nanban’ and so I just had to give it a go.

In Tim’s recipe he uses the miso caramel to flavour a ‘whippy’ ice cream (made with cornflour not egg yolk) and mixes it in completely. In my version I use my favourite standard vanilla ice cream recipe (only this time I replace the caster sugar with brown sugar) and then use the miso caramel as a ripple. This way you get a pure hit of sugary umami* (for all those Sat lovers out there you’ll know what this means).

All pretensions removed, if you like ice cream, salted caramel and Japanese flavours then it’s very likely that you’ll love this ice cream.

NOTE: umami* – a category of taste in food (besides sweet, sour, salt, and bitter), corresponding to the flavour of glutamates, especially monosodium glutamate (miso is naturally high in MSG, as are many other foods that we all love – Parmesan cheese, soy sauce, marmite, ripe tomatoes, breast milk!)

Brown sugar ice cream with a miso caramel swirl

For the miso caramel

  • 120g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 150ml whole milk
  • 55g miso paste
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the brown sugar ice cream

Makes 1 1/2 pints

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 dessert spoon of cornflour
  • 300ml milk
  • 300ml double cream

First make the caramel. Heat the milk in the microwave or in a pan until it is nearly boiling.

Then put the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved. Raise the heat to medium and let it bubble away until in turns a dark amber caramel. Keep a careful eye on things because it will turn very quickly.

Whisk in the hot milk but be careful because it will bubble up. Keep whisking until all the caramel has dissolved.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the miso and vanilla extract.

Pass the mixture through a sieve and then return to the heat and let it simmer away until it thickens up a bit. You want a nice thick pouring consistency. Leave to go completely cold.

Now for the ice cream. In a bowl beat the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar together.

Heat the milk in a saucepan slowly until it is almost boiling and then stir this into the egg and sugar mixture.

Tip the whole lot back into the pan and place on a medium heat stirring continuously with a whisk until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Try not to let it boil or there will be a chance it will curdle and ruin.

Cover the mixture and leave it to cool first to room temperature and then in the fridge.

Once cold, stir in the cream and churn in an ice cream maker until thick.

To assemble, take a plastic container and first put in half the ice cream mixture, then drizzle over half the caramel. Spoon in the remaining ice cream and then finally the rest of the caramel. Take a butter knife and run it through the mixture in a wavy motion to create the swirl.

Place in the freezer to finish hardening.

NOTE:

If you like ice cream and don’t already have one I really do recommend buying an ice cream maker. I have a Magimix Le Glacier ice cream maker – the cheaper sort where you have to freeze the bowl overnight before using (about £50 from John Lewis or Argos). If you don’t have an ice cream maker then you can still follow this recipe but you will need to whip the double cream first before adding it to the milk/egg/sugar mixture. Fold the cream into the custard and then freeze, beating every couple of hours with a fork or in a food processor until it is firm enough to scoop (usually about 6 hours).

If you really can’t be bothered with making ice cream then just make the caramel and pour over shop bought vanilla.