Kakejiru: Japanese Noodle Broth
Kakejiru is commonly referred to as ‘noodle broth’ since it is commonly served as a ‘soup’ for many types of Japanese noodle including Udon, Soba, and Somen. In particular, Udon served in this broth, often with various toppings, is called Kake-Udon and is a very popular dish both at home and as a restaurant offering or street-food snack. In practice, however, the preparation, whose name essentially translates as ‘gravy’ or ‘dressing’, has much wider application. Just as Kakejiru is based on the foundation Japanese stock Dashi, so too can Kakejiru be regarded as the base for many other Japanese broths, sauces and simmering liquids… The basic preparation is made from Dashi and Soy sauce plus Mirin and/or Sake. Sugar may be added, and a little salt may be necessary depending on the saltiness of the other ingredients. A good starting point for making one cup of Kakejiru would be:
- 1 cup Dashi (homemade from this recipe, or commercial stock powder);
- 1/2 – 1 tbsp. Soy Sauce;
- 1 tbsp. Mirin (or Sake);
- 1 pinch Sugar (optional);
- Salt to taste.
The method is quite simple. Just bring the dashi to a gentle simmer and then add the rest of the ingredients. After simmering for a further 5 or 10 minutes, you can use it immediately or cool it down and refrigerate for later use. Generally, you will be making a good deal more than 1 cup, especially if using it for noodle broth, and you can always make extra for other recipes as well. The amounts and ratios of the seasoning ingredients (soy, mirin and sugar) are not carved in stone and you can vary according to taste or particular use. A typical Tempura sauce, for example, can be made by changing the basic recipe given above to include, 4 tablespoons each of Soy and Mirin, plus a whole tablespoon of sugar.