Chewy udon noodles blanketed in thick curry and topped with a pan-fried tomato seemed just the right thing to welcome the cool autumn weather… except that we’re still experiencing 90+ degrees, here in Los Angeles. No matter. Hot weather calls for hot food. My dad would tell me that after sweating over a steaming bowl of ramen or spicy curry rice, you’ll feel cooler. It’s all relative, after all. My dad also said you only feel hot because you think it’s hot. I can appreciate the depth of his thinking now, but it made no sense to me at the time. Japan’s humid summers were hot-hot-hot—and I was sure it wasn’t because I imagined it that way.
It’s important to buy the thick udon noodles because it’ll stand up to the rich curry. Think of it like you would pasta—thin noodles would call for a light sauce and thick noodles would call for a robust, hearty sauce. Same logic. I always buy the dried noodles when making the typical udon, but get the fresh noodles for this. My friend Christy happened to mention her favorite frozen udon brand and that’s what I used here. If you can find it, use Sanukiya Udon (distributed by Shirakiku). It’s chewy and has a great firmness and isn’t soft or mushy.
Tomato Keema Curry Udon
Adapted from オレンジページ2010年1月7日
Makes 2 servings
1 Tbsp canola oil
½ onion, slice into 4 sections crosswise, then thinly slice lengthwise
1 garlic clove, grated finely (with a microplane grater)
1/3 piece ginger, grated
2 tomatoes, 2 center-sliced sections (1 cm thick) and the rest diced
150 g ground beef
1 pack savory chicken broth, dissolved in 600 ml boiling water (you could also use a bouillon cube)
1/2 package curry roux (I used S&B brand’s Torokeru Curry)
2 packages frozen udon noodles
1 stalk green onion (optional)
Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high. Once it begins to shimmer, add the onion. Cook for 6 to 7 mins, stirring frequently. Measure 100 ml water and set aside. When the onion starts to brown, add 1/5 of the water. Continue to stir and cook until the liquid is gone and add 1/5 more water. Repeat until with the remaining water. Once the onion turns a golden brown color, add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add the diced tomato with juices and stir. Cook until the tomato breaks down and thickens, about 5 mins. Add the ground beef and break up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Once no longer pink, add the soup. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 3 mins.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
Turn off the heat to the pot with the onions, tomato, and beef. Add the curry and let sit for a couple minutes. Stir with a wooden spoon, making sure the curry has completely dissolved into the pot. Turn the heat back on to medium. Bring to a boil, then cook for 3 mins to thicken.
In a small frying pan over high heat, cook the 2 tomato slices (without oil) until browned around the edges, about 2 mins each.
Once the large pot comes to a boil, add the frozen udon and cook according to package instructions. Drain well. Divide among 2 large bowls, ladle the curry over the noodles. Top with tomato and green onions, if using.