Bukkake Udon (Japanese Cold Noodles With Broth) Recipe

Chilled noodles in a savory broth keep you cool and satisfied in the summer heat.

Overhead shot of a bowl of bukkake udon, topped with bonito flakes, sliced scallions, nori, grated daikon, pickled ginger, a soft-cooked egg, and plenty of sesame seeds.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • A mixture of soy, mirin, and sugar is blended with dashi to create a deeply flavorful broth in no time.
  • Having your choice of toppings and condiments means the bowl can be exactly as you want it.

I'm relatively confident that no English-language article has ever been written about bukkake udon without a joke in the opening paragraph about the name. I wish this one were different, but there's no way to get around it without immediately eliciting a chorus of juvenile titters ("heh, he said titter"). So let's just get it out of the way. Tee hee, hoo hoo, ha ha, lolz, lmfao, rotfl, and all the rest.

Okay, now that we're all giggled out, let's be clear: Bukkake udon has no relationship to that other bukkake,* except that the word describes the act of splashing liquid on something. The word had been used in food contexts (you may be familiar with tamago gohan, the Japanese egg and rice dish that's also referred to as tamago bukkake meshi) long before it was co-opted by the adult-film industry. In this dish, the liquid is a cold dashi-based broth, splashed onto the chilled udon noodles. Nothing more, nothing less.

*If you don't know what "that other bukkake" is, just be warned before you look it up that it's very NSFW and NAFK (not appropriate for kids).

The beauty of bukkake udon is just how perfect it is in the summertime, and how customizable it is to whatever toppings you desire and have available. It's flavorful and filling, but not heavy, and it's chilled to keep you nice and cool.

There are a couple of constants, though. First are the chilled cooked udon noodles. Udon are fat wheat noodles, available in both fresh and dried form in most Asian grocery stores. The dried noodles will last longer, but fresh noodles have a more slippery texture and a nicer al dente bite. They're often available in the freezer section as well, and you can store them for several months before freezer burn will get the best of them and mess with their texture.

Whether you use fresh or dried, cooking them is easy: Pop them in boiling water until they're just tender, then drain them and shock them in an ice water bath before draining again.

Second, you need a broth. I did some testing while working on a good chilled dashi-soy broth for my onsen egg recipe, and the method I settled on works beautifully here, too. It's one I picked up from Nancy Hachisu's excellent book, Japanese Farm Food, and she in turn picked it up from one of her favorite soba chefs in Japan. It involves first making what's called kaeshi, which is a concentrated mixture of soy sauce and mirin, with just a little sugar to balance the flavors. The kaeshi is then blended with dashi to make the broth. It's salty and savory, with layer upon layer of complexity.

You put the cold noodles in a bowl, and, when you're ready to serve them, pour the chilled broth on top.

Before you do, though, you need to add some toppings, and this is where you can let loose.

Close-up of a bowl of bukkake udon, loaded with toppings.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

My bowl shows quite a few options, including: a sheet of nori, grated fresh ginger, pickled ginger, toasted sesame seeds, freshly grated daikon, bonito flakes, thinly sliced scallion, and an onsen egg. (This is a Japanese-style soft-cooked egg, which you can read more about here, though it's worth noting that any kind of poached or soft-cooked egg will work.) If you make the kaeshi and eggs in advance and use instant dashi, you can whip this bowl up in no time, with no more cooking than the couple of minutes it takes to boil the noodles.

Chilled kaeshi broth being poured from the spout of a ceramic vessel into a fully-loaded bowl of bukkake udon.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Some folks may say I'm guilty of overkill, given how many toppings I've heaped onto this, but that's the fun of bukkake udon: You can choose your own adventure.

A close-up of several udon noodles being lifted above a bowl of bukkake udon with a pair of chopsticks.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

There are so many easy and inappropriate jokes I could close this with, but I'm not going to go there. Your imagination will suffice.

August 2016

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 15 mins
Serves: 2 servings

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) mirin

  • 1 teaspoon (4g) sugar

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) soy sauce

  • 3/4 cup (180mlhomemade or instant dashi, chilled (see notes)

  • 2 (7-ounce; 200g) servings store-bought udon noodles

  • Assorted garnishes and toppings of your choice, such as bonito flakes, nori sheets, thinly sliced scallions, toasted sesame seeds, soft-cooked onsen eggs, grated fresh ginger, grated daikon radish, and pickled sliced ginger

Directions

  1. Combine mirin, sugar, and soy sauce in a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Transfer to a bowl and set in the refrigerator to chill. (You can also rapidly cool by pouring mixture into a stainless steel mixing bowl and nesting that bowl in a slightly larger mixing bowl filled with ice water.)

  2. Combine 1/4 cup of the soy/mirin mixture (kaeshi) with dashi and stir. Taste mixture and add remaining kaeshi if desired. Keep chilled.

  3. In a medium pot of boiling water, cook udon until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes (or follow cooking time on package if it differs). Transfer to an ice bath to chill. Drain noodles well.

    A spider transferring cooked udon noodles to a bowl of ice water.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  4. Transfer noodles to 2 soup bowls. Top with garnishes and condiments of your choice, then pour dashi broth into each bowl and serve.

    A six-panel sequence showing toppings being added one by one to a bowl of bukkake udon in the following sequence: onsen egg; pickled ginger; grated daikon; grated fresh ginger; bonito flakes, nori, and scallions; and, finally, the chilled kaeshi broth and sesame seeds.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Notes

For the broth, you can use an equal quantity of instant dashi in place of the from-scratch dashi here, with excellent results. Feel free to play with the ratio of soy-mirin concentrate to dashi, using more dashi for a lighter, less salty broth or less dashi for a more intense flavor.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
208 Calories
2g Fat
37g Carbs
10g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 208
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 1944mg 85%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 14%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 28mg 2%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 367mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)