Four 8-oz packages of refrigerated or frozen udon noodles, found at Asian markets or in the refrigerated pasta section at many mainstream grocery stores. Costco also sells it, six individual packages in one bag. I’m partial to Shirakiku brand, sold in the frozen foods section at Asian markets — I think this brand of udon has the best texture (chewy and al dente, difficult to overcook).
Kikkoman stir-fry sauce or any other bottled Asian-style marinade you have on hand (e.g., teriyaki sauce, Soy-Vay). Of course, you could make your own, with some corn starch, soy sauce, minced garlic, rice wine and a pinch of sugar, but I was going for convenience.
Six or seven button mushrooms, sliced
A couple of handfuls of snow peas, with ends snapped off, chopped into 3-4 sections per pea
One boneless pork loin chop, cut into thin strips. I get the giant package of them at Costco, put them into sandwich Ziploc bags (two per bag), then put all of the little bags into one giant freezer Ziploc bag. That way, I can defrost just one or two bags at a time for meals. For this recipe, I sliced the chop into thin slices, then cut each slice into strips.
Udon sauce, found near the udon or in the condiments aisle at Asian markets, or sometimes in the “international” aisle at grocery stores. If you can’t find it, you can mix up 3-4 tablespoons of soy sauce, a splash of rice wine, 1 tablespoon of sugar, a minced garlic clove, and a few drops of sesame oil. Experiment until you find a taste you like!
For the face: A slice of bread, two blueberries (I used frozen) and a strip of red pepper
Here’s what I did:
1. Combine meat strips and a few tablespoons of the marinade; stir. Use enough marinade so that all of the strips have a little sauce on them, but not so much that the meat is swimming in the marinade. Set aside for 15 minutes. While the meat is marinating, you can prep the veggies.
2. Heat a little oil in a pan over medium heat, then put in the marinated meat. Stir it around the pan a couple of times. Wait a minute or two (the meat will still be a bit pink), then add in the sliced mushrooms and stir to combine. You may need to add a couple teaspoons of hot water if the meat and mushrooms seem dry. (When stir-frying, I like to keep a small amount of boiled water on standby in my electric kettle, so I always have hot water if whatever I’m cooking in the pan is dry.) Let the mushrooms and meat cook for two or three minutes.
3. Once the mushrooms and meat seem almost done (it won’t take long if you sliced the mushrooms and meat thin!), drop in the snow peas and stir to combine. You’ll only need to cook those for a minute. Take the pan off the heat.
4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (you can do this while you’re cooking the meat and veggies). Cook the udon according to package directions. For the Shirakiku frozen udon, I put the frozen noodles into the boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes. Udon is supposed to be al dente. If it gets too soggy, it tastes a little slimy and loses all of its appeal.
5. Drain the udon in a colander, then return to the pot. Dump the meat and veggies that you cooked and set aside into the pot, on top of the noodles, then pour in just a little of the udon sauce (or your homemade sauce, as described in the ingredients section). Depending on how much marinade (from the meat) made it into the meat and veggies, you might not need much udon sauce to moisten the noodles. Use two spoons to gently toss and combine everything. If the noodles need more sauce, add a little more of the udon sauce to taste.
6. If you’re making Udon Lady, use a round glass to cut a circle out of one slice of bread. Place the bread on the plate, somewhere in the lower half. Press the blueberries into the bread, then put on the red pepper “smile.” Arrange the noodles, meat and veggies around the face, and voila! There she is in all her glory.
By the way, after I made the dish, I realized I had some steamed broccoli in the fridge from a couple of nights ago, so I stuck some florets in the udon. Because I didn’t start out with them, I didn’t put them in the ingredients list.