Nikuudon or niku udon/beef udon is truly comfort in a bowl. The thinly shaved beef cooked in the savoury-sweet umami flavoured sauce topped on thick udon noodles in a light soup broth makes the perfect combination for a heartwarming dish. It’s simple and light yet flavourful and satisfying. This delicious bowl of noodles is the perfect meal to end a long day or when you need a quick but healthy and yummy lunch.
What is Niku Udon (Beef Udon)
The word ‘niku’ means meat in Japanese, so just as the name suggests, niku udon is udon noodle soup with meat. It can be made from beef, pork or chicken but beef is most commonly used. The meat is very thinly sliced and seasoned with soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar to give it a savoury sweet flavour similar to teriyaki. The deliciously seasoned beef is served on top of the bowl of udon noodles with the signature udon dashi soup.
What do you need to make Niku Udon?
Udon dashi broth
Dashi broth can be made from Bonito flakes (Katsuobushi in Japanese), Kombu kelp, dried shiitake mushrooms, dried young sardines or anchovies or a combination of those ingredients. When you combine two or more types of dashi it is called Awase dashi. Any of these options will work well for your udon soup if you choose to make it from scratch. You can also used instant dashi granules too. These are available from Asian/Japanese grocery stores or online. After choosing your dashi stock, add mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and pinch of salt for the classic udon flavour. You can also purchase packets of udon soup which have all this seasoning ready made if you want to make things even easier.
thick and chewy udon noodles are made from wheat. You can use any form of Udon: frozen, dry, or freshly made. They are available from Japanese/Asian grocery stores. Dry ones are even available in major supermarkets Australia nowadays or online stores such as Amazon. Alternatively, you can make it from scratch at home with my recipe. Frozen, dry, and homemade udon noodles need to be cooked in boiling water before serving. However, freshly made udon noodles in packets just need to be heated lightly in the water.
Thinly sliced beef
As this is a niku udon recipe, some type of meat is necessary. Thin slices of beef are usually used but pork or chicken can work too. The type of meat used also varies by region. In the Kanto region, pork is often used, whereas in the Kansai region beef is usually used. I am from the Kansai region so when I say niku udon, I mean beef. You can usually find thinly sliced meat from Asian/Japanese/Korean grocery shops. If you can’t find it, you can thinly slice the meat yourself using half frozen cuts of beef but be careful!
Toppings and Condiments
Fish cake – slices of kamaboko or narutomaki are usually used as toppings. Narutomaki is the swirl version of kamaboko you would have seen in ramen recipes.
Negi / Scallions – finely chopped scallions (negi in Japanese).
Mitsuba – Mitsuba is a Japanese herb also known as Japanese wild parsley. It is often used to garnish Chawanmushi or donburi dishes. The name mitsuba is named after the shape of the leaf – Mitsu means three and ba means leaves. Mitsuba has a distinctive refreshing aroma. I have explained this Japanese herb in my Japanese clear soup recipe.
Shichimi Togarashi – seven spices chilli powder
Egg – softly poached or boiled egg goes well with the soup and beef.
How To Make Niku udon?
- Prepare and cook the meat topping. Add the soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar, and water in a little bowl and stir to mix together. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add ginger until it becomes fragrant. Then add the thinly sliced beef. When the beef colour has changed, add the sauce mixture and bring it to simmer. Cook it for about 5 minutes and turn the heat off.
- Make the udon soup stock Place dashi stock, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and a pinch of salt and bring to boil. Once boiled, pour the udon soup stock into a serving bowl.
- Cook the udon noodles Boil plenty of water in a large pot over high heat. When the water boils, add the noodles to cook. Drain the cooking water and place noodles in the serving bowl.
- Top with the beef and your choice of other toppings such as naruto and chopped scallions.
Tips for Making Niku Udon
- Cook the meat toppings first and prepare the toppings- Toppings need to be ready when the udon noodle is ready to serve.
- Cook the meat slowly- The meat needs to be cooked slowly over low heat to absorb the full flavor. Also, mirin and sake in the beef seasoning contains alcohol so it needs to be evaporated.
- Boil the udon noodles in plenty of water in a large pot.
- Only cook the noodles in boiling water if you are using frozen, dry, or homemade noodles. Freshly made packets of udon (which are available in Japan and perhaps where you live) are pre-cooked so they only need to be reheated.
What to Serve with Niku Udon?
Niku udon nutrition is mainly carbohydrates from the noodles and protein from the meat. So I recommend vegetable side dishes that supplement vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. You can also add sliced onion in the meat toppings too.
A : No it is not gluten-free as udon noodles are made from wheat.
A : Udon broth is made of Bonito flakes, kombu kelp, or combination of those usually. You can make it vegetarian or vegan by just using kombu kelp or dried shiitake mushrooms and use fake meat for toppings as well.
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp sake
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 piece ginger thinly sliced
- 250 g beef thinly sliced
Udon Noodle Soup
- 2 cups Dashi stock
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 portion Udon Noodles *1
- 6 slices Naruto
- 2 tsp finely chopped scallions
- Add the soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar and water in a little bowl and stir to mix together.
- Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add ginger until it becomes fragrant.
- Add the thinly sliced beef. When the beef colour has canged, add the sauce mixture and bring it to simmer.
- Cook it for about farther 5 minutes and turn the heat off.
Udon Noodle Soup
- Place dashi stock, mirin, soy sauce, sugar and pinch of salt and bring to boil.
- Once it boiled, pour the udon soup stock into a serving bowl.
- Cook the udon noodles. Boile plenty of water in a large pot over high heat.
- When the water boils, add the noodles to cook.
- Drain the cooking water and place noodles in the serving bowl.
- Top with the beef, naruto and finely chopped scallions.
- Sprinkle shichimi togarashi as you like.