Homemade udon noodles and Vietnamese Bánh cảnh tôm
One of my favorite things to do is to get together with two of my good friends and learn to cook a new food. We have been doing this for a couple of years now, rotating houses – the host being the “teacher”. The three of us have unique strengths and backgrounds, we’re all good cooks, and each brings something different to the table.
On Monday, Mimi taught us how to make a different variation of udon noodles. We had used an extruder before, but cutting the dough and then dusting the noodles in tapioca flour made a different textured noodle. When cooked in broth, it also made a thicker, creamier soup.
Yesterday I tried what I had learned and made perhaps the most beautiful soup I have eaten in a very long time. Before the pieces of shrimp go into the soup, they’ve marinated in a little salt, pepper, sugar, and sesame oil. It adds a lovely, subtle Asian flavor.
With Mimi’s permission, I’m proud to share with you one of her family’s recipes for udon noodles, and the soup, bánh cảnh tôm. Thanks, Mimi!
- 3-½ cups water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 1 pound rice flour (1 bag)
- 1-½ cups tapioca flour, plus more for dusting
Boil the water with the sugar and salt. Put the rice flour in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the dough hook attachment, slowly add the boiling water. Once thoroughly mixed, slowly add the tapioca flour. Let dough hook continue to knead the dough for a couple of minutes.
Turn dough onto tapioca dusted surface and knead with your hands until dough is smooth, about 2 minutes. Divide dough into snowball-sized pieces. (Keep unused dough covered until ready to use.)
While rolling out dough, be sure surface is lightly coated with tapioca flour. Make dough into hotdog bun shape. Using rolling pin, roll dough to about 1/8-inch (4mm) thick. Sprinkle surface of dough with more flour. Cut dough in half. Cut again. Cut stacked pieces into thin noodles. Separate any noodles that stick together. Dust noodles lightly with tapioca flour to prevent sticking together. Proceed with all of the dough.
Noodles can be refrigerated in a bag for a couple of days, or frozen until ready to use.
Freezing noodles: To keep noodles from freezing together, ten minutes after noodles go into the freezer, take them out and shake them gently. Return to freezer. Do this again ten minutes later.
Vietnamese Bánh cảnh tôm (Udon noodle soup with marinated shrimp, garnished with crispy scallions, cilantro, and green onions)
These proportions make one large serving.
- 5 or 6 large, raw shrimp, peeled, tails removed, and cut into nickel-sized
- A little salt, pepper, sugar, and a drizzle of sesame oil
- Approximately 2 cups chicken broth, either homemade or canned
- Handful of udon noodles
½ teaspoon fish sauce
- Several shallots, sliced paper-thin and fried until crisp
- Sliced green onions
In a bowl, marinate shrimp pieces in salt, pepper, sugar, and sesame oil for 20 minutes.
Bring chicken broth to boil. Add noodles. Cook noodles for 6 or 7 minutes, or until firm to the bite. (If using frozen noodles, count on them needing 3 or 4 additional minutes cooking time.) Add shrimp and cook for another 30 seconds or so, or until shrimp are done. Stir in fish sauce. Serve soup in a warm bowl. Garnish with crispy shallots, cilantro, and green onions.