Last week we tried another recipe from Takashi's Noodles, the Kitsune Udon on pg. 73. While some of the ratios seemed a bit absurd (and need tweaking in the future), the meal was delicious.
The odd ingredient in this dish is called "abura-age", which is made from thin slices of tofu that are deep fried & marinated. You've probably seen it on sushi bars used as little pockets with a rice filling called inari-zushi. Kitsune is the Japenese word for fox, and there are many folk tales about tricky fox spirits that have magical powers like shape shifting. Supposedly the foxes love to eat abura-age, so make sure to grab a pack if you ever need to lure one! I had trouble finding it in Asian markets before but finally discovered lots of varieties in one of the refrigerated areas.
In the recipe the abura-age is rinsed and then simmered in a sweet & savory sauce, which gives it an amazing flavor. I'm not always a big tofu fan, but this was honestly the best part of the meal! Our toddler gobbled his up and asked for more, showing no interest in the noodles or soup (which he normally loves). The rest of the dish is pretty simple ~ you make the noodles, the broth, and then put everything in a bowl with some green onion slices on top.
When I make this again I will definitely be changing the amounts around as I mentioned the ratios were all over the place. The abura-age is supposed to simmer in its sauce until the liquid is mostly evaporated, but there was far too much for that. After the 8-10 minutes called for, the liquid had hardly decreased at all so I poured most of it out and let it cook a few minutes longer. The recipe supposedly serves 4, but there were enough noodles for about 8 servings and enough broth for 6. (And we are big eaters!) I know that Japanese noodles are usually served in enormous mounds in restaurants, and while I would happily slurp them all up there, I'm not going to eat that much for a normal dinner at home. I did make a few yummy lunches out of the excess, so I guess I can't complain too much!