Chikara Udon: Hearty Winter Noodle Soup with Mochi
Udon is one of the noodles that represent Japan, together with Ramen and Soba. The noodle soup dish actually comes in many varieties, among which, what we Japanese have especially during cold winter months is “Chikara Udon (力うどん)”.
Chikara Udon (力うどん)
We usually call the seasonal Udon noodle soup with “Mochi (餅)“, a traditional Japanese plain rice cake, “Chikara Udon”. Not only do some restaurants in Japan offer Chikara Udon during the wintertime, but the hearty winter noodle soup is sometimes eaten at home as well, for it is very easy to prepare.
As preparation, Mochi rice cake is toasted or steamed before or during cooking. After Udon noodle soup is made, the cooked Mochi is put on top of the Udon. Other than Mochi, ingredients in Chikara Udon vary depending on each household, but we typically garnish the Udon bowl with chopped green onions.
In terms of the origin of the name “Chikara Udon”, the word “Chikara (力)” literally means “power” in Japanese, and there are several theories on the reason why the name of the Udon dish has the word meaning “power”.
And 2 examples of such theories are like this; one is that it is believed in Japan that Mochi brings lucky power, while another is that the rice cake is filling so that it can give people the power to act.
When it comes to how to prepare Chikara Udon, there are 2 easy and quick ways to enjoy the seasonal Japanese noodle soup dish.
(Note that cooked Mochi rice cake is chewy, stretchy, and very sticky, so please be cautious not to choke on it.)
Instant Chikara Udon
One is to buy instant Udon and cook it. There are some varieties of Chikara Udon instant noodle soups available in Japan, including the pictured one from Maruchan, which is popular in Japan.
Quick & Easy Recipe
The other method is to make Chikara Udon noodle soup with a quick and easy recipe, and lastly, let me introduce one from the popular Japanese recipe site, cookpad.com.
Image and Recipe: cookpad.com
|Udon noodles||1 serving|
|Mochi rice cake||1 piece|
|Kamaboko fish paste (if any)||3 slices|
|Tororo Kombu||5 – 10g|
|Chopped green onions||A proper amount|
|Japanese soup stock mix||2 teaspoons|
|Soy sauce||1 teaspoon|
|Sake rice wine||1 teaspoon|
|Mirin sweet cooking rice wine||1 teaspoon|
- Bake the Mochi in a toaster oven until it becomes swelled and light brown
- Put the water, Japanese soup base mix, soy sauce, Sake, Mirin, and salt in a pot and bring the mixture to a simmer
- Boil the Udon noodles in another pot
- Transfer the broth to a bowl and add the boiled Udon noodles
- As a finishing, garnish the noodle soup with the toasted Mochi rice cake and other toppings
- Enjoy the Chikara Udon!