Noodles are a dish that is tailor made for mass production. You have to prepare all of the little bits that go into it whether or not you have two or four to feed, so on the same day we did the vegan carrot cake for our friends, I did the main as a veggie udon.
Noodles are always a bitty dish, once the stock is done, you have to prepare the rest of the components individually which makes it a similar amount of work catering for two as it is for four.
Chinese mushrooms or shiitake two per person
If you’re using dried mushrooms, soak them in water before you begin. They take quite a while to soften up.
The Veg stock
The end off a chinese leaf and three or four leaves
1 small sweet potato
1 medium red onion
1 medium white onion
2 large ripe tomatoes
3l of water
Roughly chop all of the above and drop it into a big stock pot. Simmer for about 30 minutes and then filter it through a sieve to remove the large veg particles.
Keep the stock hot but don’t boil it. Add salt to taste.
For the “filling”
Salt for seasoning
The mushrooms that we soaked earlier
Blanch the mangetout in some boiling water and pull it out whilst it’s still got some crispiness to it. Do the same for the baby corn. Set aside
Take half the mushrooms and slice them. You want one whole one per person and the rest sliced.
Cut the tofu into cubes about 1 inch in size. You want about two or three cubes per person. Put a wok on high heat and pour about half a centimetre’s worth of vegetable oil into the bottom. We’re going to do a cheaty fry here. Coat the tofu cubes in cornflour, two or three at a time and then put them in the oil. Let them sizzle for about a minute and then flip them onto an unfried side. Keep going through all of the tofu cubes. You might need to change the oil after the third batch (see below for more notes). Set all the fried tofu aside
We use shop-bought udon as I have not yet been brave enough to actually make it. Apparently it’s not too dissimilar from making some types of bread, so I’ll let you know when I’ve taken the plunge.
To Finish and Serve
It’s easier if you have all the bowls you’re going to serve from out in front of you. Put a portion’s worth of udon in each bowl, then top with the other ingredients. Pour in the stock, and serve immediately
Things I’ve found
Timing is the tricky thing. You really want to power through all the prep whilst the stock is going, so your pre-cooked food doesn’t get too cold
If you’re frying tofu for more than six people you’re better off deep-frying it. The shallow fry cheat only works for quantities of five or fewer people as you can get away with frying three batches. For six or more people you’ll have to do four or more batches which means changing the oil and you might use as much oil as a deep fry in the end.