Tender thin sliced pork belly, onion, carrots, and fragrant aromatics get simmered in a rich and savory curry broth and served with slippery and chewy udon noodles. ThisJapanese Curry Udon is easy to make in 30 minutes and a weeknight winner meal!
400 grams / 14 ounces / 2 servings Udon Noodles (I used vacuum sealed packs – see notes*)
1 Spring Onion (Scallion/Green Onion) – chopped
Optional toppings: Blanched sweet corn kernels (1/2 cup) and snow peas (50 grams / 1.76 ounces), half of a soft-boiled egg for each serving, crispy fried shallots
Prepare the fresh ingredients: Cut the pork belly into 2-inch wide strips. Prepare the yellow onion, ginger, garlic, red chilies, and carrot as indicated in the ‘Ingredients’ section.
Make the dashi stock: Heat 750ml/3 cups water in a small saucepot over medium-high heat. Once the water starts to simmer, add the dashi powder and stir to combine. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for a minute. Switch off the heat and transfer to a heatproof measuring glass and set aside. Rinse out the saucepot to cook the udon noodles in later.
For the Japanese Pork Belly Curry Broth:
Sauté the onion and aromatics: Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a large nonstick wok or stockpot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the yellow onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the ginger, garlic, and red chilies and sauté for another minute until fragrant.
Cook the pork: Push everything to the side of the wok and add the pork. Pour the Japanese sake on top of the pork and sauté for 1-2 minutes until almost no longer pink. Then stir-fry to combine with everything else in the wok.
Add carrots and dashi stock: Add the carrots and toss to combine for a minute until slightly softened. Pour in the dashi stock and give everything a good stir. Cover and simmer for 8-12 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
Stir in the curry cubes: Uncover and turn the heat down to low. Add the quartered Japanese curry cubes and stir continuously for 3-5 minutes until fully dissolved and integrated.
Season: Turn the heat back up to medium-low and stir in the apple juice, kosher salt, black pepper powder, turmeric powder, ground cayenne, double concentrated tomato paste, mirin, and low sodium light soy sauce. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom. Switch off the heat and cover to keep warm.
To Assemble Noodle Bowls:
Cook the noodles: Bring water to a boil in the pot you used to make the dashi stock. Add the udon noodles and boil according to package instructions. Drain and divide the noodles evenly into two bowls.
Blanch the veggies toppings (optional): Add water to the pot and bring to a boil again. Add the snow peas and sweet corn kernels and blanch for 1.5-2 minutes. Drain into a fine mesh strainer and transfer to an ice water bath. Then drain immediately again. Pick the snow peas out of the strainer and pat dry with a paper towel.
To Serve: Ladle the Japanese pork curry broth evenly over the noodle bowls and garnish with chopped spring onion. Top with the snow peas and spoon the sweet corn kernels on top. Serve immediately.
Pork. Hotpot/shabu shabu style thin sliced pork belly meat is available in packages at Asian supermarkets. You can use hotpot style sliced pork loin for a leaner option instead or beef or lamb if you prefer.
Japanese Curry Cubes. I used S&B Extra Hot Curry Roux Cubes, but you can use mild, medium, or hot curry cubes based on your heat level preference. Look for Japanese curry cubes in Asian supermarkets or a specialty Japanese ingredients store.
Dashi Powder Sachet (Japanese fish stock powder). Using “instant” dashi powder is the quickest and easiest way to make dashi soup stock. Dashi powder comes in individual portioned sachets and can be found in Asian supermarkets, Japanese groceries stores, and online. If you can’t find it, substitute with chicken, beef, or vegetable stock.
Adjust spice level to taste. For a milder curry udon broth, use mild Japanese curry roux cubes and omit the fresh red chilies and ground cayenne. For more spicy flavors, use the hot or extra hot curry roux cubes and add more fresh red chilies and ground cayenne. You can even drizzle pure chili oil (without seeds/flakes) on top of your bowl.
Which udon noodles to buy? I recommend buying sanuki udon noodles for curry udon. While firm, the texture is smoother and more tender than other varieties. They are also more slippery, which makes them easier to slurp up. Fresh, vacuum sealed packs of fresh udon, and frozen udon noodles are preferred over the dried variety because of textural differences. Dried udon noodles tend to be thinner and not as chewy. Frozen udon has a lovely bouncy texture. You can find it in the frozen section of Asian supermarkets and some mainstream supermarkets.
How much udon noodles do I need? This recipe makes enough curry broth for 2 servings of udon noodles. Below are amounts you’ll need depending on the type of udon noodles you’re using.
Make ahead tips. Make the broth up to 3 days in advance and store in an airtight sealed container in the fridge. The flavors tend to intensify over time and will be more delicious the next day. However, cook the udon and assemble noodle bowls only when ready to serve. Combining the noodles with the curry broth will cause them to absorb the broth over time and bloat.
See ‘Variations’ section in post above for other protein options and how to make vegetarian/vegan curry udon.