How to Make Japanese Spaghetti with Meatballs

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It’s no secret that Japanese people adore noodle dishes. After living in Japan, most foreigners (like me!) get hooked, too. Some of my favorite noodle dishes to try at home are typical Japanese foods like ramen and yakisoba, but this recipe came about with a little luck using leftover ingredients I had when making a last-minute lunch. It’s a fusion take on the classic Italian-American home-cooked dish, using udon noodles instead of pasta and Japanese flavorings for the meatballs.

This heartwarming meal has become a family staple in my home back in Ireland, especially in the winter. The recipe is more straightforward than it appears so give it a go and, hopefully, it’ll become a weekly feature at your home, too.

Japanese Spaghetti with Meatballs

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 bundles or portions of udon noodles (うどん udon)
  • Vegetable oil (植物油 shokubutsu abura)
  • 1 spring onion to garnish (玉ねぎ tamanegi)
  • Shichimi togarashi and/or chilli oil to garnish (七味唐辛子 shichimi togarashi)

For the broth

  • 1 liter chicken stock (鶏がらスープtorigara sūpu)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce (しょうゆ shōyu)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking sake (料理酒 ryorishu)
  • Salt and pepper to season

pork-meat-balls

For the meatballs

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (しょうゆ)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking sake (料理酒)
  • 1 egg ( tamago)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50g panko (パンコ panko)
  • 250g good quality pork mince (豚肉 butaniku)

For the toppings

  • 100g pak choi leaves, washed and roughly chopped (白菜 hakusai)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut julienne style (ニンジン ninjin)
  • 4 eggs, hard-boiled, and halved

Method

  1. Pour the chicken stock into a large saucepan, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the soy sauce and sake, and season. Mix well and reduce to a very low simmer.
  2. Meanwhile, for the meatballs; in a large bowl, mix the soy sauce, sake, egg, salt and pepper together. Then add the panko and pork mince. Using your hands, mix well together.
  3. To make the meatballs, measure out a heaped teaspoon of minced pork mix. Then, using dampened hands, roll into the shape of a small meatball. This should make about twenty-five meatballs, depending on the size.
  4. Heat some oil in a heavy-based pan on a medium heat. Place the meatballs into the hot pan and cook, turning every few minutes until they are browned on all sides.
  5. Cook the udon noodles according to the pack instructions. Then toss into the broth, bring back to the boil and then immediately reduce to a simmer again.
  6. Divide the udon noodles and broth between four bowls, and add the meatballs, raw vegetables and eggs if using.
  7. Finally garnish with finely sliced spring onion and shichimi togarashi or chilli oil.
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Japanese food writer and author of “Japanese Food Made Easy”.

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