A frequently used dish in Japanese cuisine, Udon, is an abundant variety of noodles. It is most commonly used in Korean and Palauan dishes.
Udon noodles are served hot either as noodle soup or as alongside numerous dishes, that being both vegan and non-vegan. Here we will disclose the vegan status of udon itself as well as of its multiple manifestations.
Is the question that is it vegan? Yes, udon noodles can be termed as a vegan dish. Besides, they are referred to as noodles (i.e., not merely “pasta”), udon is the one containing no egg. Unlike other noodles, they contain wheat, flour, and water.
Here, we are going over the various reasons udon noodles generally considered vegan with any udon noodles supplied in the market that are known to be vegan-friendly. We are even going to touch on familiar non-vegan dishes that ought to contain animal products.
Table of Contents
Why Udon Noodles Are Generally Vegan
The fact that udon noodles don’t contain eggs is to be pointed out, which is counterintuitive because the presence of egg is what sets noodles (a specific type of pasta) apart from the pasta.
By combining semolina flour and farina with water, pasta, aka “alimentary paste,” is made.
In practical, when eggs are added at 5.5% or more egg by weight, the pasta product is known as noodles.
It’s interesting to know that for some odd reason, one could encounter eggless varieties of pasta in the market, which are referred to as noodles (despite being eggless), among which Asian noodles like udon are included.
Maybe just to confuse the buyers.
Typically, Asian noodles are made from wheat flours other than farina or semolina, and standard wheat flour is used in pasta. Asian noodles are often transparent or translucent in appearance.
In the West, udon noodles are often referred to as imitation noodles as they rarely contain eggs.
I would say the egg is always a possible ingredient in processed foods, and udon noodles are no exception, but don’t get me wrong. You’ll ever want to check the food label to be sure but, udon’s default formulation for noodles doesn’t call for eggs.
Eggs have vital uses in food products, and that’s due to a variety of reasons. For example, egg proteins are considered as a suitable binder in bakery products. It is mixed throughout doughs and batters, which binds various ingredients together.
Its a bit different for the case of pasta because the wheat flour usually provides enough to serve as a binder.
Contrary to this, noodles have eggs for reasons of color and texture.
The yellow color of the noodles is often derived from egg yolks, though carotenoids (plant-based vitamin A) can even be used.
As compared to plain pasta, the texture of noodles or “egg pasta” is a bit stronger, and the mouth-feel is even a bit different.
There are price differences because of the use of eggs changes the nutritional profile of the pasta.
Luckily, for vegans, Asian noodles manufacturers tend not to value the yellow color or stronger texture.
Non-Vegan Udon Preparations
First of all, the broth is to be considered. The food that can include both plant-based and animal-derived ingredients is used in Udon noodle soup. For example, Kake udon is served in a broth called kakejiru, basically made of soy sauce, mirin (rice wine), and dashi.
Fish stock is used for the production of the latter (dashi).
Toppings for udon soup can be both animal and plant-based like the broth. Plant-based ingredients are the ones including chopped scallions and aburaage, which is a type of deep-fried tofu pocket seasoned with mirin, sugar, and soy sauce.
Common animal ingredients contain seafood tempura-like kakiage or prawn. Most often, a type of half-moon fish cake called kamaboko is added.
For example, what Nongshim Fresh Udon Bowls contain is:
- Wheat Flour, Tapioca Starch
- Water, Salt, Sugar
- Wheat Gluten
- Dextrin, Dextrose, Corn Syrup
- Soy Sauce (Soy, Wheat, Salt)
- Rice Bran Oil
- Acetic Acid
- Anchovy (Extracted)
- Bonito (Extracted)
- Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, D-Sorbitol
- Dried Fish Cake (D-Sorbitol, Potato Starch, Pollock, Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids, Paprika Color)
- Dried Vegetable Flakes (Green Onion, Seaweed, Red Chili Pepper)
- Hydrolyzed Soy Protein
- Lecithin (Soy)
- Mushroom (Extracted)
- Natural Flavors
- Non-Dairy Lactic Acid, Potassium Carbonate
- Radish (Extracted), Red Chili Pepper Powder, Seaweed (Extracted)
- Tempura Flakes (Wheat Flour, Palm Oil, Onion, Bonito, Cuttlefish)
- Tuna (Extracted)
- Yeast Extract.
Just to give an idea, these are just a few examples. Now it might be possible that when you are eating out, and you see udon on the menu, you’ll want to vet the ingredients!
KA-ME Udon Stir Fry Noodles
Now, this is just the noodles (no recipe), so we’re on the safer side now.
What it contains is water, wheat flour, salt, tapioca flour, and lactic acid.
Lactic acid (LA) can be animal-derived but is made via LA-producing bacteria fed on a diet of glucose from starch, pure sucrose, raw sugar, and beet juice.
MyojoUdon Soup: Hot & Spicy Flavor
It’s ingredients include:
- Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
- Water, Salt, Lactic Acid
- Tapioca Starch
- Propylene Glycol Alginate
- Sodium Benzoate (to Retard Spoilage)
- Natural Flavor
That’s it for the vegan status of udon noodles. Thanks for reading.
You may also want to check out the following related articles:
- Udon. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Udon
- Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 359). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011. ISBN-10: 0-538-73498-1
- Chansri R, C Puttanlek, V Rungsadthong, and D Uttapap. Characteristics of clear noodles prepared from edible canna starches. Journal of Food Science 70(5): S337– S342, 2005.
- Pasta and Semolina Technology (Page 177). R. Kill-Keith Turnbull – Blackwell Science – 2001. ISBN 0-632-05349-6.
- Dashi. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dashi
- Mirin. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirin
- Nongshim Fresh Udon Bowl, 9.73 Oz, 6 C. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Nongshim-Fresh-Udon-Bowl-9-73-Oz-6-Ct/37204316
- KA-ME Udon Stir Fry Noodles. https://kame.com/udon-stir-fry-noodles/
- Lactic Acid. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactic_acid
- Groot W, van Krieken J, Slekersl O, de Vos S (19 October 2010). “Chemistry and production of lactic acid, lactide, and poly(lactic acid).” In Auras R, Lim L, Selke SE, Tsuji H (eds.). Poly(Lactic acid). Hoboken: Wiley. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-470-29366-9.
- MyojoUdon Soup Hot & Spicy Flavor. https://www.heb.com/product-detail/myojo-udon-soup-hot-spicy-flavor/2034223