Udon noodles in a curry broth is a typical combination at udon noodle bars. This recipe gives that tasty broth a whole lot more character with the addition of both fresh and dried mushrooms.
The curry powder used to make the curry sauce is quite important. While you could use your preferred curry powder, I think one of the reasons this mushroom curry broth worked was because of the Japanese style curry. While originating from the familiar South Asian roots, Japanese style curry has evolved in a very different direction. As with how South Asian style curry made its way to Vietnam, the story of how curry made its way to Japan is similarly intriguing. You can find links to these stories in the Food Stories section.
I used S&B Oriental Curry Powder, one of the most famous and widely available Japanese curry brands. You could also use a curry sauce mix – S&B and Vermont being the most popular brands in Japan. Or make you ownfrom the individual spices! Maki at JustHungry.com also does a good analysis of what spices are actually in Japanese curry.
Using dried mushrooms brings a complexity and depth of flavour that fresh mushroom can’t deliver. The Science of Cooking site has a good piece on why dried shitake mushrooms can taste better than fresh. For this dish I used a dried forest mushroom mix, as well as some dried shiitake mushrooms.
As a vegetarian dish, the dashi used will need to be vegetarian. That would mean a dashi made with kombu and dried shiitake mushrooms. Should you not be strictly vegetarian, then use a dashi made with kombu and katsuobushi (dried bonito shavings). The smoky flavour of the katsuobushi adds a distinct extra dimension to this mushroom curry broth.
I purposefully constructed this recipe so that the base was a curry paste. There was two reasons for this. Firstly, adding tsuyu to the curry paste to create the mushroom curry broth helps create layers of flavour. Secondly, I like making more curry paste than I need and freezing it in 1/3 cup quantities. When defrosted and heated with 2/3 cup of tsuyu, you get a very delicious and nearly instant udon meal.
You can simplify things a little by buying prepared tsuyu, called men-tsuyu. For most preparations, use 1 part men-tsuyu to 3 or 4 parts water. And then of course, using men-tsuyu for your subsequent udon curry meals makes a lot of sense.
Udon noodles in a mushroom curry broth
Mushroom curry paste
- 2 cups dashi
- 2 cups hot water
- 40 g dried mushrooms porcini, shiitake, forest
- 2 medium carrots for stock
- 1 large red pepper for stock
- 4 stalks celery for stock
- 2 fennel bulbs optional
- 1 onion for stock
- 1 onion for roux
- 1 red pepper for roux
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 8 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 Tbsp grated ginger
- 4 Tbsp Japanese curry powder S&B preferred
- 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp black sesame paste optional
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 200 g button mushrooms
- 3 cups dashi
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp Mirin
- 3 Tbsp sake
- *The rest
- Udon noodles
- 2 large portobello mushrooms
- Nori flakes or finely diced green onions
Mushroom curry paste
- Preheat the oven to 200 degC.
- Wash and dice the “for stock” vegetables – the carrots, celery, fennel, 1 red pepper, and 1 onion.
- Lay the diced vegetables out on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, toss, and bake for 1 hour.
- In a small saucepan soak the dried mushrooms in the 2 cups hot water for 10 minutes then bring up to a low simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Remove the rehydrated mushrooms from the water and set both aside.
- In a large saucepan, add the 2 cups of dashi, the 2 cups of water from rehydrating the mushrooms, and the vegetables that had been roasting.
- Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Finely dice the other onion.
- Finely dice the other red pepper.
- Wash and quarter the button mushrooms.
- Finely dice the rehydrated mushrooms.
- In a skillet or wok, melt 1 Tbsp butter, then add the diced button mushrooms. Sauté until starting to brown. Set aside.
- Add the other 3 Tbsp butter to the pan and sauté the diced onion and red pepper until starting to brown.
- Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for a couple more minutes.
- Add the curry powder, paprika, and dried chilli flakes and sauté until fragrant, less than a minute.
- Add the flour and stir to form a paste.
- Sauté the paste for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time.
- Add the tomato paste, soy sauce, and black sesame paste (if usinand stir.
- Slowly add the 2 cups dashi and 2 cups water from rehydrating the dried mushrooms, stirring all the time to combine.
- Add the sautéed button mushrooms and diced rehydrated mushrooms.
- Check for seasoning and add a little more soy sauce if necessary.
- Simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- In a saucepan, add the soy sauce, mirin, and sake.
- Bring to a boil and boil for a minute. This causes the alcohol to evaporate.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Add dashi to the soy sauce, mirin, and sake mixture.
Putting it together
- Slice the portobello mushrooms into long strips.
- Sauté the portobello mushroom strips until golden.
- Drain on paper towels.
- Reheat the curry paste and tsuyu if necessary.
- Cook or reheat the udon noodles.
- Add 1/3 cup of curry paste and 2/3 cup tsuyu to each boil and stir together.
- Add 1 serving of udon noodles to each bowl.
- Top with portobello mushroom strips and diced green onions or nori flakes.