A piping hot bowl of Japanese curry udon with sweet kabocha squash to balance the slight bitterness of swiss chard. Perfect for fighting off upcoming winter blues, one slurp at a time.
A little story about a bowl of noodles
A few years back I used to work at an izakaya (Japanese resto-pub). Winters were rough because I had to shovel the back alley. As a 5-foot-nothing, at the time barely over 100lbs girl, it was pretty daunting. Dreadful was the thought of starting a dinner shift after half an hour of sweating over ice and snow wearing shorts (our uniform) and a winter coat. But with winter also came our winter menu, and on it was a dish sent from heaven.
Beef curry udon.
Piping hot and drizzled with chili oil, that bowl of noodles was one of the only things that kept me going through the night. There’s a special place in my heart for curry udon, especially the one from that izakaya (even though I kind of never went back after I quit whoops).
Okay, boring story over
Moving on from my reminiscent ramblings, let’s focus on this bowl of curry udon. Definitely higher on the nutrition level compared to just the curry, noodles, and beef that I loved so much. I’ve been trying to eat more new veggies and this was my first time using swiss chard, I LOVED it. I guess if you’re not a fan you can use any other leafy green, or just omit it!
This was also my first time cooking with kabocha. Let me tell you straight up, it’s so much easier to handle if you microwave it a bit first. And use a sharp knife! I kind of dread cutting squash because I hate having that squash-y film on my hands, but to be honest it’s worth it. Kabocha is so sweet and fluffy, and goes so well with the curry. If you want more of a soupy texture for your udon, make sure to add it in a bit later. If you add it in early on , the soup base will get very thick and creamy (as you see in the photos it isn’t soup-like at all).
Another note, the outer skin of kabocha is actually edible, so you don’t have to peel it! I peeled it off because I didn’t want the extra texture but if you’re lazy or just want to reduce waste then leave it on :) If you decide that you’re not a fan of squash, sweet potato is a nice alternative!
Alright what are you waiting for? Get cookin’!
Beef Curry Udon with Kabocha and Swiss Chard
- 30 g curry roux* (~2 tbsp)
- 500 g udon noodles
- 250 g thinly sliced beef (i.e. hotpot beef or sukiyaki beef)
- 20 g dried shiitake mushrooms soaked in warm water (around 8~12 mushrooms)
- 750 ml shiitake dashi (the water from soaking the shiitake), or stock of choice
- 1 medium yellow onion peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin optional
- 1 large carrot peeled and diced
- 350 g swiss chard chopped, tough stems removed
- Half a kabocha squash* diced into cubes
- 2 bunches green onion sliced diagonally
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- Heat oil in a large wide pot on medium high. Add onion and garlic stir til fragrant.
- Add the beef and curry roux. Stir until well browned.
- Add the stock into the pot, turn up the heat to bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- Add the carrots, soy sauce, and mirin. Cover and let simmer on medium low heat. Meanwhile, in another pot, cook the udon as per package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Once the carrots have slightly softened, add the swiss chard and kabocha. The more you stir, the thicker it will get from the kabocha, so if you want it to be soupier then do not stir as much, or add more water/stock as needed.
- When veggies have all cooked through, add the udon and green onions. You can also leave the udon and curry seperated and add them together when serving. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed (soy sauce/mirin/salt).
Let me know if you make this by commenting below or through my Instagram @izzypreps!