Tag Archives: japanese

Chicken Udon Soup

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe! We haven’t been traveling much obviously, but this is the very taste of Asia in a bowl which I love. I don’t really cook Asian food very much because now that we live in Taiwan, that stuff is cheap to take out or eat at a restaurant. We do however have to pay top dollar to eat slightly sweet and not authentic western food, so that’s what I usually make at home to the way we like it. However, I did have the inspiration to make this chicken udon soup recently since I started planning meals at home, and it turned out so well I want to record it for posterity! It’s big on vegetables and taste but very light and healthy tasting. I used this recipe as a basis for it but made my own alterations.

Prep and cooking takes about 45 minutes (or the night before). Serves two generously. I don’t really measure the weight or the amount of food I prepare anymore… I just eyeball it.

Chicken thighs
One carrot
One package bok choy
Two green onions
4-6 garlic cloves
One chunk ginger
One pack of precooked udon noodles
Neutral oil (I used sunflower)
Soy sauce
Japanese rice wine or cooking wine
Dashi or miso
2 quarts chicken or veggie broth


So start with the chicken, maybe the night before. I started reading Salt Fat Acid Heat this year, have become a fervent believer in salting meat. For tough cuts of beef or pork, the night before or two days before would be great. For something like chicken thighs, don’t sweat it – salt it the night before or like I did an hour before cooking, and they still turn out even more tender and flavorful. I salted the package of chicken thighs with about a teaspoon of salt overall and then let it sit in the fridge for an hour.

Next, prep the vegetables. Peel the carrot and julienne or thinly slice them so they can cook quickly. Wash and cut the bok choy in either half or in quarters lengthwise. Finely mince the green onion and peel and slice the garlic. Ginger can be peeled and sliced into large thin slices, since you won’t be eating them directly.


Warm up a tablespoon or two of oil in your pot over a medium heat. I used a large dutch oven (just my new Le Creuset, no biggie). Next, add the chicken thighs and sear them on both sides. Then add a tablespoon each of soy sauce and rice wine. Turn the heat down to low and let the meat cook until done, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Using the same pot, directly pour in your two quarts (or thereabouts) of broth and turn up the heat to medium-high so it can boil. I use hot water pre-heated in my water kettle and add a small spoonful of Better than Bouillon to create the broth. Add a small spoonful of dashi or miso which will add a good umami flavor, and then add a little more soy sauce and stir it up until any soy sauce or anything else stuck to the bottom of the pot is dissolved into the broth.

When your broth starts to boil, you can add your vegetables: first, the garlic and ginger and carrots. Let it simmer for about 5-7 minutes and taste it so you can make sure the broth is really coming together. If it needs more flavor, add a little soy sauce or something else you prefer (like more dashi or miso). It doesn’t need to be too salty since you have the soy-sauce sauteed chicken to top things off. Next, add the bok choy or whatever other leafy vegetable you want to use and the precooked udon noodles. This can simmer for just 2-3 minutes because it takes very little time to cook. At the same time, now that your cutting board has some more space on it (if you only use one like me), go ahead and slice up the chicken thighs.

Before you put it in a bowl, taste everything to make sure it’s ready to go. The broth should be to your liking, and the carrot should be slightly tender, not crunchy. If you can find them and if the chunks aren’t too big, fish out the ginger so you don’t eat it by accident. Ladle the soup into a big bowl first before arranging the chicken on top, and finish with a handful of green onions. If you like spice, like me, you can slice up some spicy red pepper and put it in there along with the bok choy and udon noodles so it doesn’t stay in there for too long. Or just make sure you have the sriracha sauce handy. Enjoy!

Weekends at the Beitou hot springs.

Hot springs are getting to be a habit with me, a habit I’m happy to indulge. I’m not used to having luxurious baths in steaming, sulfurous water every weekend, but it so happens that with a bit of foresight and planning, I can enjoy something that I would have nearly no idea how to accomplish in the US. Bathhouses aren’t a thing in the US, for a bunch of reasons. Why go to a public bathhouse when you can have a private bath at home, after all? Well, people are missing out on the communal hot springs experience, I tell you.

This weekend, I started off my trip by dipping in at the Beitou Hot Springs Museum, which is a good way to explain what’s going on here. Since the Japanese ruled over Taiwan, a century ago, they brought with them their own traditions of onsens, or hot spring baths, from Japan to Pautauuw. The native Taiwanese aboriginals near Taipei called this area Pautauuw, which  means witch’s cauldron, because the area’s hot springs emit steam and a sulfurous smell. Over the years, the name was Sinicized to Beitou (which kind of means northern reach). In 1913, they built what’s now known as the Beitou Hot Springs Museum, but what was then merely one of the first formal onsens for government officials and important people of the like. The Victorian structure with brick and wide windows and terraces has been thoroughly restored, and inside, you can see the main bath, an open pool circled by pillars, which was for men only. A side wing features smaller pools for women. Inside the museum, you have to exchange your shoes for slippers that you wear throughout the museum, a nod toJapanese sensibilities. In one area, there is a large topographical model of how further north, waters from the actual thermal pool is piped down to spas, hotels, and hot spring locations. It was tempting to look at every single detail, but this weekend, I merely took some quick photos, and left gazing at artifacts and such for a longer visit.  Continue reading Weekends at the Beitou hot springs.