Rich, thick and moderately spicy, this Japanese-style soup will combat cold wintery nights. Feel free to use your preferred choice of noodle in this recipe, and adjust the chilli heat to suit your own taste.
- 50 g (9 large) dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1½ tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- salt and white pepper
- 300 g pork mince
- 3 tsp finely grated ginger
- 1 tbsp chilli bean paste (tobanjan) (see note)
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 5 spring onions, 4 finely chopped, 1 finely sliced
- 1.5 litres pork or chicken stock
- ¼ cup red miso paste (see note)
- 800 g udon noodles
- 320 g silken tofu, cut into four 2 cm thick slices
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 15 minutes
Cover shiitake mushrooms with boiling water and allow to soften for 15 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the water, cut in half and discard the stems. Carefully pour ½ cup of the soaking water into another bowl without disturbing the sediment at the bottom, and set aside.
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Gently lower the eggs into the water and cook for 7 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water. Peel, halve and set aside.
Grind the sesame seeds and a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle until a paste forms.
Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. Add the pork and cook, stirring to break up the lumps, for 2–3 minutes until evenly browned. Add the ginger, chilli paste and 2 teaspoons of sesame seed paste and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the mirin, soy sauce and reserved shiitake water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, season with white pepper and simmer for 6–8 minutes until the liquid reduces and thickens. With a slotted spoon remove two-thirds of the pork mixture, cover and keep warm.
Increase the heat to medium-high, add the chopped spring onions and remaining sesame seed paste to the wok and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Add the shiitake mushrooms, reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Combine 125 ml (½ cup) of hot stock with the miso paste and mix until smooth. Stir the paste back into the stock and mix until combined. Simmer until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, cook the udon noodles according to packet directions. Rinse thoroughly and divide between bowls. Place a slice of tofu in the centre of the noodles and top with the reserved pork, boiled egg and sliced spring onions. Ladle the soup over the noodles and serve immediately.
• Chilli bean paste and miso paste are available from Asian grocers and some supermarkets.