Udon noodles are thick, chewy wheat noodles used in Japanese cooking. They can be eaten hot or cold, which makes them a luscious addition to everything from breakfast broth to a late-night summer snack. Japanese cooks have access to fresh udon, but in the West the noodles are more often sold dried. Udon can be simply boiled like spaghetti noodles, but slowing the cooking process with cold water partway through gives udon the tender, chewy texture for which they are prized.
Rinse packaged fresh or frozen udon in lukewarm water and gently separate the noodles. Do not rinse dried udon noodles because this can make them sticky.
Fill a pot approximately three-quarters full of water, and salt it generously. Bring the water to a full, rolling boil over high heat.
Add the udon noodles to the boiling water. Stir the noodles with a wooden spoon or tongs to separate them.
Let the water come back to a boil, and then add about 1 cup of cold water to the pot. The measurement does not have to be exact.
Stir the noodles and let the water come back to a full boil. Add another cup of cold water and bring the noodles to a full boil.
Turn down the heat to simmer and cook the noodles, stirring occasionally, for the amount of time suggested on the package or until the noodles are tender.
Drain the noodles in a colander. Add them to your main recipe or rinse them with cool water; toss with your favorite oil to serve cold or use later.