How to make udon noodles from scratch

There aren’t many recipes where you use your feet, but Japanese udon is one of them… Let top chef Masaki Sugisaki of Dinings SW3 show you how to make udon noodles from scratch (easier than you might think), then use them in his chicken noodle broth. It’s a weekend of cookery adventure requiring simple ingredients, plenty of resting time… and clean socks!

How to make udon noodles from scratch

Making your own noodles sounds daunting but, as with pasta, there are varying levels of complexity. Handpulled noodles are an artform, while others are extruded via special machines. But noodles cut with a knife are easily achievable at home. And when it comes to udon – the famously thick and chewy noodles of Japan – homemade will knock shop-bought into a cocked hat.

As udon are made with just flour, salt and water, technique is key. You need to knead and rest them over a period of 24 hours to develop the gluten and give them their characteristic springy texture. The good news? Udon are traditionally kneaded with your feet, which is great fun (don’t worry, the dough is in a bag!).

Udon dough is so firm, the easiest way to knead it is to step on it!

Kneading udon


Meet your udon teacher

Masaki Sugisaki, executive chef at Dinings SW3 in London’s Chelsea, is more familiar with udon than most – so who better to learn from? “Homemade udon are bouncier, tastier and far superior to shop-bought,” says Masaki. “Because they’re cut rather than pulled or extruded, they’re a fantastic noodle to prepare from scratch.”

Masaki Sugisaki


Masaki’s tips for making great udon 

  • The amount of water you need depends on how warm it is. I tend to aim for a ratio of 45% in winter (which is what this recipe calls for), but stick to 43% in summer. So if it’s dry and warm, add around 10ml less.
  • Ideally you should use soft water for your udon dough. Hard water can mean your noodles become soggy on the outside before they’re fully cooked. If you live in a hard water area, use a soft bottled still water from the supermarket such as Tesco Ashbeck, Volvic or Waitrose Essential.
  • A lot of salt goes into udon dough – it tightens up the gluten network to help give the noodles their bouncy texture – but most of it is drawn out into the water during cooking, so they won’t taste oversalted.

  • The resting times are vital for giving udon their bouncy texture, so don’t skip them. And don’t let the dough dry out – always keep it covered with a clean damp tea towel.
  • Dusting the noodles liberally with tapioca starch or potato starch stops them sticking. Shake to remove the excess – it’s better to over-dust, then shake off lots of excess, than under-dust and have sticky noodles.
  • A dash of white distilled vinegar in the water when you boil the udon helps to give them a better texture.
  • Shocking the noodles in iced water once they’re cooked washes off excess starch and firms them up. They’ll warm through again in the hot broth.

Clean socks at the ready, it’s time to make your udon – follow Masaki’s step-by-step udon recipe


How to use homemade udon

Masaki has thrown in his favourite dish to make with them, too: his beloved susuru (‘slurp’ in Japanese), a chicken and sesame noodle soup. “We came up with this dish in lockdown, when we were doing takeaways,” he explains. “As well as sushi and sashimi, I wanted to do something fun and landed on noodles. The soup is originally Chinese, but I used lots of Japanese techniques as well as udon. It had incredible feedback, so even today I still put it on the menu every now and then.” Once you’ve made your noodles, use them in Masaki’s creamy, comforting susuru (chicken and sesame noodle soup) recipe.

Looking for more cookery projects? Try your hand at making roti canai from scratch.

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