The Goto Islands are located about 100 km west of Nagasaki City and are home to one of Japan’s rarest udon noodles: goto udon. Traditionally, udon is made from just three ingredients: wheat flour, water, and salt. However, goto udon uses camellia oil as a special fourth ingredient.
The Camellia Japonica plant grows along streams in the mountains of Japan and has tall, dark leaves from which bloom deep pink flowers with bright yellow centers. Camellia Japonica also produces the oil that is the secret behind the silky yet chewy texture of goto udon.
Goto udon is repeatedly hand-twisted and pulled in a traditional method called “te-yori” which results in its characteristic soft and springy texture. Compared to regular udon which is slightly rectangular, goto udon is almost perfectly cylindrical, resulting in a slippery mouthfeel. Camellia oil is added to smooth the surface of the dry noodles in a process called“migaki” (literally “polishing”) - a technique that has been passed down over centuries. Even after boiling, the faint taste and aroma of camellia oil lingers on the delicate noodles.
Goto udon is traditionally servedJigoku-daki style, also known as “hell cooking”, wherein the noodles remain submerged in boiling hot water. For this recipe, we pair our goto udon with a simple dipping sauce consisting of mirin, soy sauce, and dashi. While delicious on its own, goto udon can be further elevated by topping with chopped green onions, grated ginger, dried bonito, and scrambled raw egg.
- 1 package goto udon
- Water to boil the noodles in
- 4 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp soy sauce*
- 2 tbsp soda bushi dashi powder*
- Optional toppings: chopped green onions, grated ginger, dried bonito, scrambled raw egg (if permitted to be safely eaten)
- Boil water in a donabe or pot on the stove. Slowly add the Goto Udon noodles to keep them from sticking. Once the water has boiled again, adjust the heat to keep at a gentle boil and cook for 7 mins. Drain and rinse under water. Serve in the donabe or large serving bowl.
- To create the dipping sauce, mix mirin, soy sauce and dashi powder and serve in individual bowls. Add optional toppings as desired.
- Enjoy immediately by scooping an individual mouthful of noodles out of the communal donabe or bowl using chopsticks and dipping it in your dipping sauce.
*Available in our Creative Beginnings: Redefining “Wa” Care Package
Introduction courtesy of Britney Budiman
Britney Budiman (@booritney) is a writer, minimalist, aspiring effective altruist, and runner-in-progress with a penchant for saying “yes.” Previously, she has worked in Cambodia at a traditional arts NGO, in Brazil as a social sciences researcher, and in San Francisco at a housing start-up. She currently lives in the countryside of Kagoshima, Japan, where she teaches English. Her favorite thing in the world is good conversation.