A foot-crafted recipe of delectable noodles from the Udon Master in Shikoku, Japan. Slurp yourself happy with these Shikoku Mountain-Style Udon Noodles, an irresistibly moreish delight for lunch or dinner.
To this day, one of our favourite cooking travel memories was of the time we headed deep into the mountains of Shikoku, Japan, to learn the fine art of making Japanese udon noodles with our feet.
Yep. You read that right.
hand feet and cooked in a massive pot over a rustic wood-fired stove, they were the best, chewiest, most deliciously satisfying and flavour soaked udon noodles we’ve EVER eaten.
Which is not too bad really, considering it was our first attempt at making udon noodles from scratch.
But it definitely helped having the village’s very own udon master on hand to teach us how.
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 knew no English and we would have to rely on our limited Japanese skills (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 as the flour and water were measured out into large bowls.
Doing our best to copy the master’s technique, we used our hands to mix the ingredients, first into thin fluffy strips and then into a rough ball shape.
That’s when the fun part came in.
Popping our little balls of 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 confirmed we’d both understood that 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.
Plus it was much faster (and way more fun) than using our hands.
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 chat with the master and his wife (as best as we could) over a cup of hot Japanese matcha green tea.
It was a long 30 minutes…
Finally it was time to transform our cute little dough balls into traditional Japanese udon noodles.
To do this we pressed them out into rough circles before rolling them into thin sheets using long rolling pins. Lots of cornflour was thrown on top, then the sheets were wrapped around the rolling pins and rolled out even further.
This was another handy technique we had never used before, but worked perfectly to make the dough as thin and even as possible.
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 – a challenge at the time, but one we’ve learned to gladly embrace after our wandering adventures.
A ladle full of dashi, a splash of udon shoyu (soy sauce), some sliced spring onion, a sprinkle of ground sesame seeds and our Shikoku Mountain-Style Udon Noodles were complete.
More Delicious Japanese Recipes To Try
- Homemade Japanese Mochi
- Simple Onigiri Rice Ball Snack
- Pork Gyoza Dumplings
- Quick and Easy Takoyaki
- Udon Noodle Soup
- 400 g flour
- 200 ml iced water
- 20 g salt
- Consider topping your noodles with the following ingredients for extra flavour:
- dashi stock
- chopped spring onion
- raw egg
- bonito flakes
- ground sesame seeds
- Place the flour in a large mixing bowl.
- Mix salt into water and stir until dissolved. Pour over flour, reserving about 30 ml of the liquid.
- Using your finger tips only, in the shape of claws, mix the flour and 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 between two thick sheets of plastic and spread out using your feet. When it becomes approximately 20 cm wide, hop off and fold the dough over itself four times (like closing the lid of a cardboard box), replace the plastic, and spread again with your feet.
- 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 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 thick.
- 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.
- Lay out the sheet of dough onto a cutting surface. Add plenty of cornflour and fold the dough into a rough rectangular shape.
- Slice the dough into 1/2 cm 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.
- Boil in hot water for approximately 10 minutes until cooked through.