Homemade udon, or better known as hand cut udon/手打ちうどん, is a classic Japanese comfort food that can be served hot or cold, depending on what season it is. It's seldom made at home outside of Japan, and even in Japan it's not a very common thing to do, just because it takes a LOT of time and effort to prepare. But I decided to take a stab at it, and to my delight it turned out awesome! Here's how it went down.
Flour - 500g
Water - 225g
Salt - 25g
*Udon specialty flour is recommended, but couldn't find any so I used regular flour myself. And don't use tap water.
Combine the salt and water, making sure the salt is completely dissolved. Then slowly add the water in increments into the flour and mix thoroughly. Adding water little by little prevents big clumps and makes the kneading process easier.
The flour will be very crumbly at first, but will slowly start to condense as you mix in more water.
After you add in all the water, keep kneading until you can form an ugly lookin ball of dough. Don't try to make it all smooth, it's pretty impossible to do so by hand.
It's nearly impossible to continue kneading by hand, but not by FEET! Place the ball of dough into a plastic bag, double bag it if you're afraid you might rip it and might get some toe-jam kneaded in. Use mainly your heel and knead outward, kind of like flattening out a pizza. When it flattens out, open up the bag and fold up the dough and round it up into a ball again, and continue stomping. Keep doing this for at least 45 minutes.
After you finish stomping, it should look really smooth. Keep it in the bag so it won't dry out, and let it sit for at least 2 hours (or longer). If you don't let it sit long enough, you won't give it enough time for the gluten to form, so will become brittle after you boil the noodles. Start flattening out with a large roller once you can't wait any longer.
I was going for the Sanuki style (thick and square), so I stopped flattening out when I reached about 3mm in thickness. Dust a bit of flour on top, then fold so it's easier to cut.
You can buy these super awesome klingon lookin udon knives to cut, but honestly, any long knife will do. Just have a steady hand and cut straight, consistently. I was aiming to match the thickness, so I was trying to cut every 3mm.
Make sure all the noodles are separated, then sprinkle some flour on top and give it a few gentle shakes/tosses to prep to boil.
Have a large pot of water boiling, and then gently place the udon into the hot water. They will immediately sink, but do NOT try to stir them to the surface, as they're pretty fragile once they enter the hot water. As they boil they will naturally float to the surface on their own, and at that point you can gently stir them around.
It takes about 15 minutes to cook, but it's also a matter of preference. Just make sure not to overcook, so monitor the noodles closely. You can tell when they're close when they start to become semi translucent. Have some cold water (as cold as possible) running when you dump the noodles into a colander and immediately cool the noodles and rinse the residue off the noodles. You can do this for a good couple minutes.
DONE! Zaru udon is perfect for a hot day, and pairs perfectly with some fresh tempura and an ice cold beer!