This is possibly one of the earliest dishes that I grew to love when I was in Japan! Curry udon カ レ ー う ど ん is an easy lunch or dinner idea that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. It’s a staple dish that you can find in casual diners in Japan, and it tastes so yummy.
This curry udon recipe takes very little hands-on work but yields a large pot that can serve 4. Best of all, it’s freezer-friendly and works well if you are making ahead. Curry udon is a popular choice for lunch boxes, a road trip, or a cold day at home.
What is Curry Udon?
Curry udon consists of udon noodles cooked in a rich, flavorful curry broth loaded with vegetables and meat. Usually, the vegetables are carrots, onions, and potatoes, so it’s quite healthy. The curry has a delicious smoky mix of spices, but it’s sweeter than it is spicy.
This staple Japanese dish is also a yoshoku, which is a dish that has Western influences. Curry originates from India, and it was introduced to Japan by the Anglo-Indians during the Meiji era. Today, curry or kare is used in many Japanese recipes like katsu curry rice, although it packs way less heat than its Indian origins.
- Thinly sliced pork – These thinner slices cook much more quickly as they’re more delicate.
- Potato starch – We’ll use potato starch to coat the pork (it protects the pork from drying out). We will also use it to thicken the curry at the end.
- Green onions – Slice some green onions diagonally to go into the curry and garnish.
- Carrot, potato, and onion – Peel and cut these into bite-sized pieces.
- Sake – Sake is a Japanese rice wine. Look for cooking sake, or alternatively, Chinese rice wine or dry sherry.
- Mirin – This is also a Japanese rice wine but is a little more on the sweeter side. It’s a key ingredient in many Japanese recipes, so I always have a bottle stocked in my pantry.
- Curry cubes – I use S&B brand curry roux cubes (Torokeru curry series). However, any other brand works – just make sure it’s Japanese curry!
- Note: Curry cubes have wheat flour in them, so it is not gluten-free friendly.
- Hondashi (Bonito soup stock) – Hondashi is a stock made of dried bonito and other ingredients, but it adds delicious, savory umami to any dish!
- Milk – Milk thickens the curry and gives it a creamy consistency.
- Udon – Udon is a thick, silky noodle made of wheat flour. I’ve used the pre-cooked kind in this recipe, so I can just drop them into the pot here. Please see the recipe tips below if you are using uncooked or dry udon.
- Soy sauce
How to Make Curry Udon
- Coat the pork in 4 tablespoons of potato starch. This step ensures that your pork is still juicy and tender after it’s been in the pot.
- Pour the water into a large pot and bring it to a boil. Add the pork, green onions, carrot, onion, and potatoes. Once the potatoes are almost fully cooked, add the soy sauce, sake, mirin, curry cubes, and powdered bonito soup stock. Mix until the curry cubes have fully dissolved.
- Tip: To check if the potatoes are cooked, stick a fork in. It should go through with a little push. However, if they’re overcooked, they’ll just break apart. In that case, I would remove them from the pot and add them back in once I’m ready to serve.
- Dissolve another 4 tablespoons of potato starch in the milk. Add this mixture to the curry.
- Mix well, then add the udon and cook as directed on the package. (Mine usually take around 2-3 minutes.)
- Tip: Only add as much udon as you are ready to serve. You don’t want to fill the entire pot with it and have them overcook in there!
- Pour the curry udon into bowls, garnish with some green onion, and enjoy!
- Vegetable or seafood tempura – Eggplant, pumpkin, carrots, deshelled shrimps, and calamari can all be coated in a tempura batter and deep fried. Just like that, you have added a crispy texture to curry udon!
- Soft-boiled egg – Let a pot of water boil and then let it simmer before putting an egg in for 6 minutes. This should result in a fully cooked egg white with a lovely runny yolk.
- Narutomaki – Narutomaki 🍥 is a mildly flavored fish cake topping usually eaten with ramen. And yes, that’s where Naruto gets his name from. These are stocked in the frozen section of a Japanese or Asian grocer.
- Meat options – Besides thinly sliced pork, you can also use sliced beef or diced chicken.
- Vegetarian options – Vegetarian friends, I got you! Simply skip the meat and substitute it with fried tofu or shiitake mushrooms.
- Spice things up – The curry cubes aren’t spicy, like most Japanese food. I usually add a bit of chili oil or dried chili powder seasoning (togarashi) if I need a bit of a kick.
- If you are using uncooked udon packets or dry udon noodles, make sure to cook according to the packet instructions. After boiling, rinse the noodles in cold water to remove any extra starch. And you know how pasta should be cooked to al dente? The same applies to udon: it should be silky smooth and a little chewy in texture. Overcooked udon can be lumpy or break apart easily.
- Once you drop the curry cubes in the pot, it will take a bit of stirring to make sure it is fully dissolved. Along with the mixture of vegetables in there, it can be hard to fish for the cubes and check if they’re fully dissolved! So to take the guesswork out of it, you can also dissolve the curry roux in a bowl of hot water first before pouring them in.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
Curry soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and frozen for up to 2 months. Please make sure you’ve devoured every last bit of udon noodles before you put the curry away for its hibernation!
You can store the entire pot, or portion them into individual containers, depending on how many people you foresee will be eating it the next time. To reheat the curry, microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, or bring it to a boil over the gas stove.
The curry should have thickened in the fridge, so please add water and stir until it reaches the desired consistency.
Curry udon typically has a savory, slightly sweet, and spicy flavor with a thick and hearty texture.
Curry was introduced to Japan by the Anglo-Indians during the Meiji era. The curry cubes we have today have made it possible to quickly whip up a curry that goes well with udon or rice.
Udon is not pasta. It is a Japanese noodle made of just salt, water, and flour whereas pasta contains eggs.
Udon noodles are very versatile and can be stir-fried, cooked in soup, or in curry, like this recipe!
Easy Curry Udon
- 400 g thinly sliced pork
- 4 tbsp potato starch
- 2 L water
- 4 green onions diagonally sliced
- 1 carrot cut into bite-sized pieces
- ½ onion cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 potato peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup sake
- ¼ cup mirin
- 4 curry cubes from Torokeru curry mix
- 4 tsp powdered bonito soup stock hondashi
- 4 tbsp potato starch
- 200 ml milk
- 4 packets udon
- green onion for garnish
- Coat the pork in 4 tbsp potato starch.
- Pour the water into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the pork, green onions, carrot, onion and potato. Once the potatoes are almost fully cooked, add the soy sauce, sake, mirin, curry cubes and powdered bonito soup stock. Mix until the curry cubes have fully dissolved.
- Dissolve the remaining 4 tbsp potato starch in the milk, and add to the curry. Mix well, then add the udon and cook as directed on the package. (Mine usually take around 2-3 minutes.)
- Pour the curry udon into bowls and garnish with some green onion and enjoy!