うどん【Udon Noodles】

Udon noodles made from flour and buckwheat noodles called soba are the most popular varieties of Japanese noodles. Udon noodles are made from wheat flour, which is mixed with salt and water into a lump of dough. After that the dough is rolled out so that it is thin and then it is cut into strips. Traditionally, thin and brown buckwheat noodles have been preferred in the eastern part of Japan, while thick and white udon noodles have been preferred in the western part of Japan. People eat udon both hot and cold. Chilled noodles dipped in cold broth are especially preferred during the hot and humid Japanese summers. Like soba, udon can be eaten simply in a broth garnished with small quantities of condiments such as scallions and red pepper. People often eat udon, however, with their favorite ingredients such as deep fried tofu (bean curd), prawn tempura, raw eggs, and slices of boiled fish paste called kamaboko. Many people also prefer to eat nabeyaki udon, which refers to udon noodles cooked with vegetables, meat, and broth in an earthenware dish. While nabeyaki udon is eaten all year round, it is especially popular during the winter.

うどんは蕎麦(そば)と並ぶ日本の代表的な麺類で、小麦粉に塩水を加えてこねた生地を薄く伸ばし、細く切って作ります。古くから、細くて茶色っぽい蕎麦が東日本で好まれているのに対し、太くて白いうどんは西日本で好んで食べられます。うどんは温かくして食べるほか、特に夏場には冷たくして冷たいつゆにつけて食べる「冷やしうどん」も好まれます。蕎麦と同様に、麺とつゆに少量の薬味(ねぎ、七味等)を添えて食べるのが最もシンプルな食べ方ですが、好みの具(油揚げ、エビの天ぷら、生卵、かまぼこ等)と一緒に食べることも多くあります。また、寒い季節には土鍋の中でうどんと野菜や肉をだしで煮込んだ鍋焼きうどんも好んで食べられます。

In addition to udon there are several other kinds of noodles made from flour. These noodles mainly differ by their shape. Hiyamugi, which is served chilled, is thinner than udon and somen, which is also usually served chilled, is the thinnest of all. Kishimen, long and flat noodles, are also well-known. Kishimen is a specialty from Nagoya (in Aichi Prefecture).

うどんの他に小麦粉で作る麺類は数種類あり、主に形状に違いがあります。うどんより細いものが冷や麦、最も細いものが素麺(そうめん)です。冷や麦と素麺は冷たくして食べるのが普通です。これらの他に名古屋の特産品に平たく細長いきしめんもあります。

Many Westerners may be offended when the Japanese slurp their noodles. This is quite proper, however, because it is necessary to eat the noodles quickly. Otherwise the noodles will get soft. In other words, slurping noodles is the way to eat noodles so that they do not lose their flavor. For this reason, it is not considered bad manners in Japan to make noise when eating noodles.

麺類を食べるときには音を立ててすすり込みますが、これは麺が伸びてしまわないうちにおいしく食べるこつで、まったく無作法ではありません。

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