Make a Splash With Bukkake Udon (Japanese Cold Noodles With Broth)

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Vicky Wasik

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.