If I’m completely honest, this recipe came about with a little luck using ingredients I had at home to make a last-minute lunch. Generally dumplings would be added to this type of noodle dish, but the meatballs work really well. The light soy broth works well in month summer and winter months.
4 bundles or portions of udon noodles
1 spring onion to garnish
shichimi togarashi and/or chilli oil to garnish
For the broth
1 litre chicken stock
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sake
salt and pepper to season
For the meatballs
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sake
salt and pepper to season
250g good quality pork mince
For the toppings
100g pak choi leaves, washed and roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut julienne style
4 eggs, hard-boiled, deshelled and halved
1 Pour the chicken stock into a large saucepan, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the soy sauce and sake, and season. Mix well and reduce to a very low simmer.
2 Meanwhile, for the meatballs, in a large bowl, mix the soy sauce, sake, egg, salt and pepper together. Then add the panko and pork mince. Using your hands mix well together.
3 To make the meatballs, measure out a heaped teaspoon of minced pork mix. Then, using dampened hands, roll into the shape of a small meatball. This should make about twenty-five meatballs, depending on the size.
4 Heat some oil in a heavy-based pan on a medium heat. Place the meatballs into the hot pan and cook, turning every few minutes until they are browned on all sides.
5 Cook the udon noodles according to the pack instructions. Then toss into the broth, bring back to the boil and then immediately reduce to a simmer again.
6 Divide the udon noodles and broth between four bowls, and add the meatballs, raw vegetables and eggs if using.
7 Finally garnish with finely sliced spring onion and shichimi togarashi or chilli oil.
Ramen is one of the ultimate comfort foods. Although ramen is now part of the Japanese culture, it came originally from China. In Japan each ramen restaurant will have their own secret stock recipe and this is guarded from one generation to the next. You can find ramen stalls on street corners and these are popular places to visit on the way home after a night out.
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
salt and pepper to season
1 chicken breast, butterfly cut
1 litre chicken stock
1 tablespoon dried seaweed
2 packs of egg or ramen noodles (about 400g)
3 tablespoons white miso paste
100g beansprouts, washed handful of pak choi leaves, washed and roughly chopped
spring onion to garnish shichimi togarashi and/or chilli oil to add a little spice
To serve ramen you’ll need;
2 large bowls 2 spoons 2 sets of chopsticks
1 To make the marinade for the chicken breast, in a small bowl mix together the sake, vegetable oil, salt and pepper.
2 Using your hands, completely cover the chicken in the marinade and leave to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
3 Once the chicken is ready, heat a heavy-based pan on a medium to high heat and seal the chicken on both sides. Then reduce the heat and continue to fry until the chicken is cooked through and set aside.
4 Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan and immediately reduce to a simmer.
5 Place the dried seaweed in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes to soften. Then squeeze out any excess water and set aside.
6 Place the noodles in a bowl of boiling water and gently untangle using a fork or chopsticks. Drain in a colander and rinse under a running cold tap to remove any excess starch.
7 Toss the noodles into the stock. Bring the stock back to the boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer.
8 In a small bowl, mix the miso paste with a few tablespoons of hot stock from the saucepan, dissolving any lumps. Add the miso paste to the stock and mix well together.
9 Divide the noodles between two large serving bowls. Then divide the seaweed, beansprouts and pak choi evenly between the two bowls, arranging carefully. Slice the cooked chicken breast and place on top of the ingredients as shown in the picture.
10 Finally, fill the bowls about three-quarters full with the miso stock and garnish with spring onion and shichimi togarashi or chilli oil.
4 eggs, at room temperature
100g caster sugar
100g plain flour
1 tablespoon ingredient matcha powder
250ml whipped cream for filling
icing sugar for dusting
You’ll need swiss roll tin (10” x 15” or 13” x 9”)
1 Preheat a fan oven to 180ºC.
2 Whisk the eggs and caster sugar in an electric mixer for about 10 minutes until nice and fluffy.
3 Sieve the flour and matcha together a few times to make sure the matcha powder is completely mixed into the flour.
4 Using a large spoon gently fold the sieved flour into the egg and sugar mix.
5 Carefully line a baking tin with greaseproof paper and lightly grease with butter.
6 Pour the batter into the baking tin, using a spatula to gently even it out.
7 Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until a skewer/sharp knife inserted comes out clean.
8 Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes in the baking tin.
9 Turn the cake over onto a clean tea towel, then carefully peel off the greaseproof paper.
10 Roll the cake in the tea towel and allow to cool (this will avoid it breaking later).
11 Unfold the cake when it is cool and spread the whipped cream evenly on the cake.
12 Roll again and dust with icing sugar. Put in the fridge until ready to eat.
Sake is an integral part of Japanese cuisine in the same way as wine is to French cuisine. It’s traditionally drunk from small cups called ‘choko’ and can be served either hot or cold. It’s a popular option for cocktails and has a lower alcohol content than vodka. Asian speciality stores now stock a decent selection of sake, including sparkling sake.
Makes 2 cocktails
30ml lime juice
90ml cranberry juice
mint leaves to garnish
1 Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add all the liquid ingredients and mix well together until well chilled.
2 Serve in a cocktail/martini glass and garnish with mint leaves.
The past few years has seen an increasing interest in bone broths due to their amazing health benefits. This recipe is similar to a standard chicken stock recipe but I’ve added a few ingredients to give a Japanese flavour and umami to the stock, including kombu (kelp) seaweed. After cooling the stock you can remove the thin layer of fat sitting on the surface of the liquid. Then it can be stored in the fridge for a few days or it can be frozen.
Makes 1 litre
1½ litres cold water
dried kombu (kelp), a postcard sized piece
raw whole chicken carcass
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 leek, washed and roughly chopped
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, cut into slices
2 tablespoons sake (optional)
1. Place 1½ litres of cold water and dried kombu in a large saucepan. Set aside for at least 20 minutes to allow the water to absorb the umami from the seaweed.
2. Add the chicken carcass, carrot, leek, ginger and sake to the saucepan.
3. Bring to the boil and immediately reduce to a simmer.
4. Use a ladle to remove any foam from the top of the water and cover with a lid.
5. Continue to simmer for at least 1 hour and for up to 3 hours on a low–medium heat.
6. You should have a little over 1 litre of chicken stock left depending on how long it’s been simmering.
7. Strain the stock through a sieve and allow to cool. 8 Store in the fridge for a few days or freeze.
Japanese rice is a type of short-grain rice that has to be washed in a particular way to remove the excess starch. To get the perfect bowl of rice follow the steps below. Most Japanese people leave the rice sitting in the sieve for about 15 minutes before cooking. If you don’t have time you can skip this step.
How to wash:
1. Place the measured rice in a medium-sized bowl, cover with cold water and gently rub the rice grains against each other using your hands.
2. Drain the rice, add more water and repeat two or three times until the water runs almost clear.
3. Finally place the washed rice in a sieve to drain excess water.
How to cook:
Using a rice cooker
If you have a rice cooker at home, please wash the rice as instructed above and then follow the manufacturer’s instructions to cook the rice. Generally the rice cooker will include a rice measuring cup and a measure on the inside of the rice cooker bowl to guide you on the amount of water to add.
Using a saucepan (amount given serves 4 people)
Heavy-based saucepan with a tight lid 2 cups
Japanese rice (using a measured rice cup this weighs 320g), uncooked
2½ cups cold water
1. Transfer the washed rice to the saucepan.
2. Add two and a half cups of cold water, cover and slowly bring to the boil over a medium to high heat (this takes about 10 minutes depending on the size of the saucepan and heat source).
3. Once the water is boiling, reduce to a medium to low heat and continue to cook, covered, for a further 6 minutes or until the water is fully absorbed into the rice.
4. Without lifting the lid (if possible – if the lid on the saucepan is not clear you may want to slightly lift it to check if the water is fully absorbed), remove from the heat and set aside for another 10 minutes to allow the rice to continue cooking in its own steam.
5. Use a rice spatula to gently fold the rice, then serve.