Asian Recipes/ Dinner/ Japanese/ Lunch/ Pasta/ Recipes/ Super Simple

Homemade Udon Noodles from a Japanese Udon Master

31/08/2020

Get ready to make these super simple homemade udon noodles from scratch… with your feet! Only 4 ingredients stand between you and these fresh Japanese noodles, just waiting to be added to a big bowl of soup.

Wooden board with a pile of fresh udon noodles.

Why We Love This

To this day, this is one of our favourite travel memories in the mountains of Shikoku, Japan, where we learnt the fine art of making Japanese udon noodles with our feet. Yep. You read that right.

This is the easiest method for making homemade noodles from scratch. We love being able to make a batch at any time and either eat them fresh, or pop them straight in the freezer for future deliciousness.

Shikoku Mountain-Style Udon Noodles - A foot-crafted recipes of delectable noodles from the Udon Master in Shikoku, Japan. Slurp yourself happy with this moreish dinner delight. | wandercooks.com

What are udon noodles? 

These delectable chewy noodles are very popular in Japanese cuisine. Usually served in a simple broth, it’s the perfect light meal to fill you up.

Where we learnt to cook udon:

Our first attempt at making udon noodles from scratch was in Miyoshi, Shikoku Island, Japan with the village’s very own udon master.

The Japanese udon master preparing his noodles.

Stepping inside the cosy udon cooking shed, the master launched straight into his lesson with a quick introduction to the recipe – both of which were completely in Japanese. We quickly realised that he didn’t speak English and we would have to rely on our conversational Japanese (and a few useful hand gestures) to turn the simple ingredients of flour, water and salt into noodle-y goodness.

Quickly donning aprons and super stylish bandanas, we followed along doing our best to copy the master’s technique.

When he told us to pop our dough between sheets of thick plastic, the master motioned to us to jump up and knead the balls with our feet!

We looked at each other, quickly confirming we’d both understood the instruction correctly, then jumped up and got stomping. We couldn’t argue though – this unusual and completely unexpected technique was super effective.  Squishing the dough under our feet helped it become smooth and perfectly kneaded.

Woman standing on udon dough in Japan.

After that, it wasn’t just the dough balls that needed a little rest. While the dough took a break in a warm place for 30 minutes (the most convenient warm place being under a Japanese kotatsu table), we chatted with the master and his wife (as best as we could) over a cup of  hot Japanese matcha green tea.

One at a time our sheets of dough were carefully laid out onto a long chopping board before being chopped into thin strips using a handy spring-loaded cleaver. At home, the easiest way to achieve this would be with a pasta machine.

Afterwards we gathered the noodles into our hands and gently pulled them apart to help separate them properly, then dropped them straight into steaming hot water to cook.

Before long the noodles were ready to be eaten, ladled out into huge bowls along with a raw egg each, followed by a ladle full of dashi, a splash of udon shoyu (soy sauce), sliced spring onion, a sprinkle of ground sesame seeds. Yum!

What You’ll Need

This recipe can’t get much simpler! You need flour, water and salt – that’s IT! The cornstarch (or tapioca flour) is only used to stop the dough and noodles from sticking. We used bread flour (or all purpose flour), and recommend a whole wheat flour if you can get your hands on it.

Ingredients laid out ready to make udon noodles at home.

How to make udon with your feet:

  1. Mix salt into the iced/cold water and stir until dissolved.
  2. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Pour the salt water over flour, reserving 2 tbsp to add later. Using your finger tips in the shape of claws, mix the flour and salt water together until they bind into fluffy strips. Add remaining liquid knead with the thumbs and palms of your hands, gradually forming a rough ball shape.
  3. Place the dough ball in a thick plastic bag and spread out using your feet. When it becomes approximately 20 cm / 8 inches wide, hop off and fold the dough over itself four times (like closing the lid of a cardboard box). Pop it back in the plastic, and spread again with your feet. Do this around 20 – 30 times.
  1. Remove from plastic and fold up into clam shape.
  2. Place into a plastic airtight bag and cover with a tea towel. Rest in a warm place for 30 minutes. Remove from plastic bag onto floured surface and press dough into a flat circle with the palms of your hands. Dust liberally with cornflour and roll out using a rolling pin until 1 cm / ½ inch thick.
  3. If cutting with pasta maker: Cut the dough into 4 equal sections, and shape the dough into a rough rectangular shape.
  1. Pop it through the pasta roller starting from size 0 to 2. Roll it through twice for each size.
  2. Now feed the dough through the fettuccine cutter on the machine. Dust with a little extra cornstarch if necessary to keep the noodles from sticking together.
  3. To cook the udon noodles: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Pop in the udon and cook for around 5 minutes until cooked through.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • If using a pasta maker, don’t go any thinner than size 2 when rolling out. You want nice, thick and chewy noodles!
  • Once the udon is floating while boiling, you know they’re almost ready.
  • Keep an eye on the noodles while boiling them, as they do have the tendency to boil over. Simply reduce the heat slightly if this happens.
  • If you want to be super traditional, you can use a Japanese udon knife, known as udon kiri. We’ve found them online, and they look so cool!

FAQs

Can I use my hands or KitchenAid to knead the dough?

Yes! Although, it will be a lot harder by hand. You could also try using your KitchenAid – but only for the kneading step. We recommend keeping it on a low setting of around 2-3, as the dough is quite tough. Still use your hands to mix it initially and get the right texture.

Which flour is best?

We use and recommend bread flour. The higher gluten percentage works well for getting the right udon texture. You can also use all purpose flour or whole wheat flour.

Can I freeze the udon noodles or the dough?

Yes and yes.

If freezing the udon noodles, you can do this after cutting them. Section them out into portions and pop them into sealed ziplock bags. It’s best to use them up within a month. When ready to cook, no need to thaw, pop them directly into the boiling water and cook for around 10 minutes, or once they’re floating. Give one a taste if you’re unsure, to see if it’s at the texture you prefer.
You can also keep the noodles in the fridge, although we recommend freezing over refrigerating for the best texture result.

If freezing the udon dough, you’ll need to put it in a ziplock or sealed container as well. When you’re ready to make it into noodles, leave it out on the bench to thaw to room temperature over an hour or two. Then roll out, fold and cut as normal.

Variations & Substitutes

  • Salt: You can use table salt, sea salt or Himalayan salt for your udon.
  • Cornstarch: Sub out with tapioca flour or rice flour in a pinch.
Stack of two blue bowls filled with hot udon noodles and topped with a pair of chopsticks.

Here’s a few flavour ideas to add to your homemade udon:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating below!

Fresh udon noodles on wooden board.

Homemade Udon Noodles from a Japanese Udon Master

Get ready to make these easy homemade udon noodles from scratch… with your feet! Only 4 ingredients stand between you and these fresh Japanese noodles, just waiting to be added to a big bowl of soup.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 4 portions
Calories: 364kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $5

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 400 g flour bread flour or all purpose
  • 200 ml water iced or cold
  • 20 g salt (1 tbsp)
  • cornstarch

Instructions

  • Mix salt into the iced/cold water and stir until dissolved.
  • Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Pour the salt water over flour, reserving 2 tbsp to add later.
  • Using your finger tips in the shape of claws, mix the flour and salt water together until they bind into fluffy strips.
  • Add remaining liquid knead with the thumbs and palms of your hands, gradually forming a rough ball shape.
  • Place the dough ball in a thick plastic bag and spread out using your feet. When it becomes approximately 20 cm / 8 inches wide, hop off and fold the dough over itself four times (like closing the lid of a cardboard box). Pop it back in the plastic, and spread again with your feet. Repeat this around 20 – 30 times (not a typo – this is how you get that perfect udon texture!).
  • Remove from plastic and fold up into clam shape. Press edges into centre of the ball removing as much air as possible. Place into a plastic airtight bag and cover with a tea towel. Rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from plastic bag onto floured surface and press dough into a flat circle with the palms of your hands. Dust liberally with cornflour and roll out using a rolling pin until 1 cm / ½ inch thick.

If cutting with pasta maker:

  • Cut the dough into 4 equal sections, and molding the dough into a rough rectangular shape, feed it through the pasta roller on Size 0. Do this twice, before moving up to Size 1 and folding through twice, and finally on Size 2.
  • Now feed the dough through the fettuccine cutter on the machine. Dust with a little extra cornstarch if necessary to keep the noodles from sticking together.

If cutting by hand:

  • Roll the dough sheet around the rolling pin and continue to roll over itself, pressing forward four times to thin out the dough. Repeat this process rolling twice from top to bottom and then left to right. You want the dough to be around ½ cm / ¼ inch thick
  • Lay out the sheet of dough onto a cutting surface. Add plenty of cornflour and fold the dough in twice to a rough rectangular shape, like folding a letter.
  • Slice the dough into ½ cm / ¼ inch wide strips.
  • Unfold the noodles and gather in small sections into your hands and tap a few times against the cutting surface to remove excess cornflour. Gently pull apart each strip into separate noodles.

To cook the udon noodles:

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil. Pop in the udon and cook for around 5 minutes until cooked through.

Video

Notes

Tips to get this recipe just right:
  • If using a pasta maker, don’t go any thinner than size 2 when rolling out. You want nice, thick and chewy noodles!
  • Keep an eye on the noodles while boiling them, as they do have the tendency to boil over. Simply reduce the heat slightly if this happens. Once the udon is floating while boiling, you know they’re almost ready.
  • Flour: We use and recommend bread flour. The higher gluten percentage works well for getting the right udon texture. You can also use all purpose flour or whole wheat flour.
  • Kneading: With feet is best. You can use hands but it will be a lot harder. A stand mixer or KitchenAid is also okay, but only for the kneading step. Keep it on a low setting of around 2-3, as the dough is quite tough. Still use your hands to mix it initially and get the right texture.

Nutrition

Calories: 364kcal | Carbohydrates: 76g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1942mg | Potassium: 107mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 5mg
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
Homemade Udon Noodles from a Japanese Udon Master

24 Comments

  • Reply
    Mark
    06/08/2019 at 8:31 am

    This looks amazing. I would love to do this. Where did you take your class? I’ve taken a soba class in Iya Valley and would love to learn how to make udon on my next trip to Japan this Fall.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/08/2019 at 5:02 pm

      Hi Mark, thanks for stopping by! We discovered this recipe when we were staying at Momonga Village Guesthouse – the owners introduced us to a nearby Udon Master who took us into his home to teach us. If you head to that area, we definitely recommend reaching out to them to see if they can put you in touch. The master’s English was very limited, so if you know some basic Japanese it will help. It’s such a beautiful green part of Japan, hope you have an amazing visit. 🙂

      • Reply
        Mark
        10/08/2019 at 2:09 pm

        Thank you so much! What a fun looking place to stay. Thank you for sharing this.

        • Reply
          Wandercooks
          16/08/2019 at 3:57 pm

          You’re welcome Mark, enjoy your adventures through Japan, we can’t wait to get back there again soon!

  • Reply
    Shihoko
    05/05/2016 at 10:09 am

    5 stars
    I think this is the best and easiest way to make delicious home made Udon noodles <3 I am going to share this on my social media accounts 😀 If it is in Shikoku, it may be Sanuki Udon? You proved that food is the best way to communicate 😀

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      05/05/2016 at 3:19 pm

      Oh yes I think you’re right! It definitely had the square shape and flat edges of Sanuki Udon, which we much prefer to the rounded shape. Not sure why, but I think it’s slightly chewier, or at least a much more satisfying texture, especially when served hot! How do you like to eat udon noodles?

  • Reply
    Regina
    28/04/2016 at 11:46 pm

    5 stars
    OMG… noodles made by foot? How awesome is is that! This is my first visit to your site, but I’ll have to keep coming back. Anything combining travel and food instantly piques my interest 😀

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      29/04/2016 at 8:03 am

      Yay thanks for stopping by Regina, hope you enjoy! Of course now we must ask: What’s your favourite cuisine?

      • Reply
        Regina
        01/05/2016 at 3:12 am

        Oh boy, that a tough one. It depends on my mood a little. Having just spent 8 months in Thailand, I am a sucker for al things Thai food. But when I need comfort, it’s the Slavic/Eastern European food my mom cooked.

        • Reply
          Wandercooks
          02/05/2016 at 9:09 am

          It’s definitely a touch choice! Especially with so much delicious food everywhere you look! 😀 Thai food is totally delicious but we miss Eastern European food so much and had a ball eating our way through so many countries there. Albania and Bulgaria were probably our top favourites (but again, so hard to choose!). 😀

  • Reply
    Valentina
    28/04/2016 at 11:01 pm

    5 stars
    Oh what I would do to be in the mountains of Japan making these noodles! What an amazing experience (& how delicious)!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      29/04/2016 at 8:02 am

      It’s definitely an amazing experience – thoroughly recommend! Such a beautiful region of Japan and filled with wonderful people. (And amazing food – of course!)

  • Reply
    Annie @ Annie's Noms
    28/04/2016 at 10:25 pm

    Oh my gosh, I’ve always wanted to make my own noodles; it looks like the most amazing experience! These noodles look amazing!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      29/04/2016 at 7:57 am

      It’s super fun and definitely cause for a few laughs haha. But the foot technique definitely works, and at the end you get to eat the freshest, tastiest noodles ever. What’s not to love? 😛

  • Reply
    Christie
    28/04/2016 at 9:39 pm

    What an amazing time. This is what I love about traveling. This would definitely be on my some day list.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      29/04/2016 at 7:54 am

      Oh definitely, us too! Plus it’s amazing how food and cooking can bring people together the way nothing else can. (But for even more fun, definitely try cooking with your feet hahaha.)

  • Reply
    Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy
    28/04/2016 at 7:21 pm

    5 stars
    You just can’t beat a big bowl of noodles like this. It is so comforting and always makes me feel better.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      28/04/2016 at 7:52 pm

      100% AGREE! We need more of this in our lives!!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    28/04/2016 at 6:26 pm

    5 stars
    LOVE your photos! So Happy I came across your site, I’m going to Vietnam in 2 weeks for the first time!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      28/04/2016 at 7:51 pm

      Thanks Sarah! So jealous, we’re in love with Vietnam and would go back in a heartbeat. Be sure to eat as much street food as you can, including Com Tam (Pork Rice), Beef Pho and as many Ca Phe Su’a Da (Vietnamese Iced Coffee) as you can possibly fit in!

  • Reply
    Genie
    08/05/2015 at 6:11 am

    What an amazing culinary travel experience. Love your photos. Such a beautiful landscape, noodle making looks very therapeutic in such a place. I don’t think I would ever want to leave there.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      09/05/2015 at 9:01 am

      Thanks Genie, it is a lovely place. If you ever go the area is called Miyoshi, Shikoku, Japan.

  • Reply
    Bec
    30/04/2015 at 7:33 pm

    What a wonderful experience. I am now craving some steamy udon noodles and a delicious tea! Bec x

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      30/04/2015 at 7:36 pm

      Thanks Bec, glad you enjoyed. Highly recommend you enjoy a bowl with friends! 🙂

    Leave a Reply

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