Are Udon Noodles Vegan Unlike Most Noodles?

Are Udon Noodles Vegan Unlike Most Noodles?

This thick and chewy variety of Japanese noodles is definitely a lure but are udon noodles vegan or not? Typically, udon noodles are made out of wheat flour, salt, and water. But they are often served in dishes that contain both vegan and non-vegan ingredients. Not all udon noodles can be blindly consumed considering that they’re typically vegan. Predominantly, udon noodles are vegan, but like all other foods, their case needs to be analyzed to be sure.  

Udon noodles are typically eggless

Udon noodles are amongst the few varieties of Japanese noodles that do not contain eggs. Typically, the presence of eggs is the sole thing that differentiates noodles and pasta. 

Noodles are basically defined when eggs are included by 5.5 percent or more in weight as the ingredients of a pasta product. Well, Udon noodles are one variety that is not supposed to contain eggs even though eggless varieties of pasta may better be called pasta and not noodles. For this reason, Udon noodles are often called imitation noodles in the West.

Pasta, in its most basic form, is created by making a combination of semolina flour or farina or some other type of wheat with water.

Noodles in Asia, on the other hand, are made by using wheat flours except semolina and farina. 

This doesn’t rule out the possibility of egg as an ingredient in store bought or restaurant ordered udon noodles. It is advisable to always go through the food label or ask the services at the restaurant. 

Eggs are typically used in food products as binders. The egg proteins mix thoroughly in the dough or batter and bind the component ingredients to make a smooth mix. 

Eggs are not required in pasta because the wheat flour has adequate gluten to function as a binder. 

Noodles, on the other hand, use eggs for the enhancement of their colour and texture. 

The yellow color which is a characteristic sign of certain varieties of noodles is mainly derived from the yolk portion of eggs. Though some noodles also employ carotenoids which are plant based Vitamin A pigments.

You can even recognize the presence of egg in noodles because of a certain specific feel it leaves in the mouth. 

A pack of noodles that contains egg will commonly be more expensive and the nutritional values listed on the back could also serve as evidence. 

Beware while dining out, your udon noodle broth could be non-vegan

It is common for food makers to create both plant based and animal-derived ingredients based broths for udon noodles. There are many ways of serving udon. They are commonly served as a noodle soup in a hot broth but some places may also serve them cold with a dipping sauce.

Kake udon is served in a broth that is known as kakejiru. Kakejiru is made out of soy sauce, mirin, and dashi. Dashi is made out of fish stock. A vegan needs to be aware of the various non vegan food components and their derivations that might find a way into their plate in little moments of ignorance. 

Miso nikomi udon is udon noodles cooked in miso soup and vegetables to make a fulfilling udon stew. 

Curry udon is coated in roux which is a Japanese curry.

Udon suki is a noodle dish in a hot pot in which a cooked udon noodles are graced with toppings of bamboo shoots, eel, bean curd, shrimp, mochi, daikon radish, shiitake mushrooms, chicken, and spinach and is served along with a peculiar bowls of broth for dipping.

Just like the broth, the toppings in your bowl of udon noodles could be both plant based and based on animal derivatives. Seafood tempura, prawn, and kakiage are commonly found as toppings. Kamaboko is a half moon shaped cake of fish which is often served together with these noodles. 

Your well known Nongshim Fresh Udon Bowl contains ingredients like wheat flour, tapioca starch, wheat gluten, soy sauce, extracted bonito and extracted anchovy, along with dried vegetable flakes and dried fish cake. 

Always remember that anchovies are small dried fish. Keep these commonly used ingredients in mind the next time you order a udon bowl soup from a restaurant and confirm with them that these chunks are absent from your meal. You could also visit their website to check.

are udon noodles vegan? an analysis of the ingredients

Read the label behind your packet of udon noodles and spot these animal based ingredients:

  • There are some typical non vegan ingredients you need to remain on a look out for when you buy a packet of so called vegan noodles.
  • Albumin, which is an egg protein that is used in food preparations as a binder.
  • Casein is a milk protein that enables non dairy food cheeses and food items to attain meltability.
  • Gelatin is prepared from animal bones and skin and is used as a thickener in desserts.
  • Lactose is milk derived sugar found in many confectionary products.
  • Whey is a byproduct of making cheese and is commonly found in breads.
  • Red dyes used in certain foods are often prepared by crushing insects.
  • Contrary to some rumours, Agar agar is a vegan alternative to gelatin and is often used as a thickener in desserts.

All packed udon noodles may not be trustworthy, but these are vegan for sure

Though udon noodles are essentially known to be vegan, it is still possible for animal ingredients to find their way in your food one way or the other. We have listed some trusted brands that’ll definitely be safe for you to eat.

KA-ME Udon Stir Fry Noodles

This packet of udon noodles will contain the noodles without any given recipe. So you are safe to prepare them with your vegan ingredients without depending on the doubtful packed additives.

These noodles are simply made of water, wheat flour, tapioca flour, and lactic acid.

Oftentimes animal derived lactic acid is used in food products but the one used in these noodles is derived from lactic acid producing bacteria that are fed on a diet rich in glucose, starch, raw sugar, pure sucrose, and beet juice.

Myojo Udon Soup: Hot and Spicy flavour

These popular Japanese style pre-cooked noodles served with soup contain very simple all vegan ingredients like enriched wheat flour, water, salt, lactic acid, and natural flavours.

While many consider these noodles to be vegan, it is important to note that the ingredients include Lactic acid and Natural Flavours. 

Lactic acid is often derived from animals, unless in some cases where it is derived from bacteria.

Natural flavours can be a warning for vegans as these are often derived from animal sources and not necessarily from the fruit or vegetable whose flavour they mean to imitate.

Udon noodles are a healthy choice 

Udon noodles are easy to digest and serve as a comforting dish when you are feeling sick. Their complex carbohydrates help in improving weight loss and reduce the risks of developing various heart ailments and type 2 diabetes. 

These noodles have a high content of fibre which reduces your risk for colorectal cancer. The high levels of vitamin B in this meal serve to keep you energized.  

Udon noodles may not be the healthiest food you can consume if you are struggling with insulin resistance. They are quite rich in carbohydrates and may not be advisable if you need to maintain a low carbohydrate level. 

Their carbohydrate content is as high as 65 grams per serving in most cases and consumption of such amounts of carbohydrates would not let your body shift to fat burning. 

Nutritional value of Udon noodles

We have listed the average nutritional value of Udon noodles per serving:

  • Calories: 160 kcal
  • Total fat: 1 g
  • Saturated fat:0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 0 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 65 g
  • Dietary fibre: 2 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 28g

It is clear that udon noodles don’t have much nutritional value. It is important to pair them with foods that will compensate for the lack and provide you with a blessed vegan and balanced diet.

You can make udon noodles all by yourself at home with this simple recipe

We have brought to you an easy recipe to make udon noodles at home if you are skeptical about the reliance on the food made outside. It is true that we will never really know the varied constituents of ready made and restaurant foods enough to indefinitely trust them for upholding our promise of veganism.

It is important to pair these noodles with a nutritious accomplice so that you get all the essential vitamins and minerals along with a tasty meal.

Follow these steps to make your own udon noodles at home.

Get these ingredients:

  • One and a half cups of water 
  • Three tablespoons of salt
  • Eight cups of all purpose flour
  • Cornstarch or Potato starch (optional)

This recipe will make udon noodles enough for six servings.

The preparation time is twenty minutes.

The cooking time is ten minutes.

The total time this will take is thirty minutes.

  1. Take a large bowl or a measuring cup and stir the salt and water together until the salt completely dissolves. 
  2. Occupy a clean work surface and pile up the flour into a mound with a well just in the center of it. Be slow and add water into the center of the well. While doing this, work on the flour with your hands to form a dough of thick consistency. The amount of water required may increase or decrease based upon the type of bread you use. Flours with higher protein value will use more water than those with lower. 
  3. Leave the dough aside for 10 minutes. After this knead it for about 5 minutes until it is firm but also smooth in texture. There is an easy method of kneading dough. Wrap the dough in a heavy duty resealable plastic bag while leaving a gap for the air to escape. Put the bag in between two towels and then knead the dough by thumping on it with your feet, we are not kidding.
  4. Take a clean and damp kitchen towel and cover the dough for 2-8 hours. You’ll need to keep it like this for more time in a cold room and for less time in a hot room.
  5. Sprinke flour on a clean work surface so that it forms a layer. Roll the dough into a rectangle by using a rolling pin. The rolled dough should be one-fourth to one-eighth of an inch in thickness. Keep rotating and changing sides of the dough as you knead.
  6. Face the shorter end of the rectangle, then dust with cornstarch and then fold the dough into quarters. There should be an adequate gap between the folds so that a chopstick can be inserted into the centerfold.
  7. Take a sharp knife and use it to cut the dough into noodles one-fourth of an inch in thickness. Use the chopstick in the center to lift the noodles.
  8. Take a large pot of boiling water and keep adding the noodles to it slowly as the water keeps on boiling. Keep boiling until the noodles are sufficiently tender. After this, drain and rinse these noodles under running cold water while shaking the colander so that the strands lay separate. 

Enjoy your home-made udon noodles with a nutritious hot broth or a cold dipping sauce.

Conclusion 

It is quite difficult to adhere to a strict vegan diet in times when additives make their way into literally any food item and processed foods are made to appear as attractive to humans as lures are to fishes. It is a valuable promise to choose to be vegan and to responsibly reduce your carbon footprint. The whole world may not realize it right now, but soon there will be a realization and then you wouldn’t have to be as worried. Have your guiltless bowl of delicious udon noodles. 

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