It's the tail end of July and we're still experiencing hot! Hot! Heat! in London. So what better way to chill out than with a slight twist to my all time favourite noodle, the tempura udon. London's finally got a bona fide udon-ya in the guise of Koya which serves some truly sublime sanuki udon in a proper kansai broth (i.e. clear). The chefs were brought over from Kunitoraya in Paris famed for being one of the best places for udon in Europe. I always have the tempura udon which has been my favourite since childhood, but I'm a little miffed that you only get one prawn tempura for the princely sum of £9 (that's daylight robbery!) Tempura udon should have TWO prawn tempuras, people!
So we decided to make our own. We got ourselves the following ingredients: frozen sanuki udon, prawns, aubergine (eggplant), lady fingers (okra), an onion, half a daikon (mooli), spring onions (scallions), a jar of nameko (small Japanese mushrooms in a sweet sauce) and some men tsuyu (ready-made, concentrated broth for soba and udon).
The frozen sanuki udon is probably the best ready made udon I've tried; it's thick, chewy and robust. I've never really had nameko before but it's got some umami and would also pair nicely with some hot Japanese rice.
We made a light tempura batter with flour, an egg and ice cold water. We left some water in the freezer to make it super cold and it had a film of ice on top (but that's optional, of course). We lightly floured the prawns, sliced aubergine, lady fingers and sliced onion before dipping them into the batter and deep frying them in vegetable oil. It was our first attempt at making tempura and it came out extremely well: crisp and light. Except for the lady fingers which were too tough. I suspect we needed to blanch them a little before deep frying.
In the meantime, we boiled the sanuki udon and when done, rinsed the noodles under cold running water to disperse the heat. We separated them into bowls, added some cold water to the men tsuyu (you can decide how strong you want the tsuyu to be), then topped the udon with the tempura, grated daikon, nameko and sliced spring onions. Easy!
The cold noodles and tsuyu contrasted perfectly with the crisp, warm tempura, and the sharp kick from the grated daikon was in turn mellowed by the nameko.
Perfection in a bowl on a hot summer evening.