Sonoko Sakai makes Oyako Udon, as seen on her course, Intro to Japanese Cooking on Food Network Kitchen.
Recipe courtesy of Sonoko Sakai

Oyako Udon

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr 30 min (includes soaking and cooling times)
  • Active: 1 hr 30 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
No Japanese cooking education is complete without noodles and broth. This Japanese noodle soup features slippery udon noodles and a combination of toppings that is famous in Japan: chicken and egg. “Oyako” translates roughly to “parent and child” in English, which refers to the two central ingredients in this version. In this recipe you’ll learn how to make and season the most standard (and delicious) Japanese soup broth, and then how to use the base sauce known as “tare” to season broiled chicken. 






  1. For the dashi: In a medium saucepan, soak the kombu and mushrooms in the filtered water for at least 2 hours and up to 10 hours at room temperature. After soaking, heat the saucepan with the water, soaked kombu and mushrooms over low heat until bubbles begin to form around the kombu and mushrooms, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the kombu and mushrooms before the water comes to a boil. Save the kombu and mushrooms for a future use.
  2. Bring the soaking water to a boil and then turn off the heat. Add the bonito flakes. Let stand for 2 minutes without stirring to steep the bonito flakes. To strain the dashi, pour the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve or a strainer lined with a thin kitchen towel, cheesecloth or paper towels. Do not press on the bonito flakes while straining as it will cloud the dashi. You should now have about 8 cups of dashi. Use the finished dashi immediately or cool completely and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
  3. For the tare: Combine the mirin and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely. Lower the heat, add the soy sauce and cook until the liquid starts to simmer, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
  4. For the soup: To cook the eggs, bring 1 quart (about 1 liter) of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add a pinch of kosher salt, then lower the eggs into the boiling water with a spider and cook over high heat for 7 minutes, stirring the eggs gently once. Remove the pan from the heat and drain. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water and let them cool for 3 minutes. Peel the eggs and set aside.
  5. Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange the chicken skin-side-down on the foil. Using a paring knife, lightly score the meat side every 1/4 inch. Brush with the sesame oil.
  6. Make ginger juice by grating the 3-inch whole piece of ginger on a Japanese grater or rasp grater. If using a rasp grater, transfer the grated ginger to a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and press to drain as much juice as possible into the bowl. You should have about 1 tablespoon fresh ginger juice. Drizzle the ginger juice over the chicken and season lightly with the sea salt and pepper. Broil the chicken thighs, basting every 3 to 4 minutes with 1/4 cup of the tare, until golden brown and just cooked through, 12 to 16 minutes. Flip the chicken so it’s skin-side up, baste again and broil until the skin is golden brown and crisp, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, let rest for 10 minutes, then slice each thigh into 3 thick slices.
  7. Meanwhile, combine 3/4 cup tare with 8 cups of dashi in a large saucepan. Bring the soup to a boil over medium heat and keep warm. Taste for seasoning and adjust with additional tare or dilute with filtered water as needed. Once the soup is boiling, carefully taste and stir in a splash of the sake if desired.
  8. Cook the udon noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to the package directions. Using tongs or a noodle scooper, remove the noodles from the cooking water, rinse in cool running water, drain and divide among 4 large soup bowls. Add the spinach to the boiling water and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute. Drain the spinach, pressing to remove as much water as possible, and divide among each serving of noodles.
  9. Ladle the boiling soup over the spinach and noodles in each bowl and top each with 3 slices of chicken. Slice the cooked eggs in half lengthwise. In each bowl, place 2 egg halves and a quarter of the scallions, then garnish with a quarter of the julienned ginger. Garnish each bowl with shichimi togarashi if using and a strip of lemon zest. Serve immediately.