Part 4: Osaka’s Auntie Spreads Takoyaki and Udon

Chapter 19: Making Udon

 

“You really know how to make all kinds of weird things.”

“Want to taste some, Natalia?”

Still prone, Haruna pushed the wooden box over.

“… unnecessary, it doesn’t look good at all.”

“Well, kids have always found fermented food a little difficult to accept.”

Not just children, even adults who were not used to fermented food would find it difficult to accept food like stinky, sticky food such as natto[1], especially when they haven’t grown up with it.

Because of this, Haruna did not try to force the issue.

“Anyway, since I’ve had some miso, I’ll be able to recover properly after some rest.’

The level 13 of the dungeon was very peaceful today. Recently, only very stupid monsters would bother to attack [Haru-chan] or the adventurers on this floor. There were no stupid monsters today.

Thanks to the nearly limitless amount of Recovery Items at [Haru-chan], adventurers who stopped at this floor were particularly daring when it came to monster hunting. Naturally, [Haru-chan’s] adventurer staffs also participated in monster subjugation, which contributed to the gradual decrease of monster population at level 13.

“I need energy, ah, but I don’t have an appetite, na… During times like this, it has to be udon[2]~ I really want to eat udon~”

Udon is delicious, easy to digest and gentle on the stomach, when Haruna had the cold as a child, her mother had always prepared udon for her.

The slightly sweet golden brown dashi[3], tender udon noodles, topped with sweet fried tofu and sliced green onions. The gentle warmth that came from the first sip of the dashi broth was something that spoke deeply to the Japanese psyche.

Though Osaka has a reputation of being loud and boorish, its proximity to the culturally traditional and elegant Kyoto, which used to be the capital of Japan by the way, resulted in a preference among local Osakans for a rather refined and gentle dashi.

Suddenly, a thought occurred to Haruna.

Would it be possible to make udon in this world?

“Ah, but it would be quite troublesome to get hold of good dashi, na…”

She would be able to get hold of katsuobushi[4], the same way she got hold octopuses, via magic.

As for konbu[5], well, at worst, she could still use her salted konbu from her magical candy bag.

But, soy sauce, she’s still missing soy sauce. This is a secret ingredient that can’t be left out.

Also, there’s another big issue…

“There are no chopsticks in this world, naa….”

Without chopsticks, the experience of eating noodles from hot soup would be quite unpleasant. Some might say forks would work, but, forks just can’t grab noodles the way chopsticks could, and the danger of splashing broth increases…

Not just udon, but ramen, kake soba[6], pho[7], were all dishes which featured noodles with a hot soup base, and incidentally, all are eaten with chopsticks.

“There are some shops catering to aristocrats that provides forks, but I still think that forks are more suitable for pasta type of things… ah, that’s it!

“Pasta types! “

Well, it looked like Haruna had a light bulb moment.

This sudden flash of idea seemed to have zapped her lethargy away.

“When it comes to udon, there’s no need to stick with just one type of broth. If you like bukkake[8] udon there are more than just the Osaka style!”

Thus, Haruna switched over to noodle making mode.

There were plenty of flour in [Haru-chan], all she had to do next was to add salt and water and began the kneading process.

After the dough was made, she found that she needed a rolling pin.

Rolling pin, rolling pin, ah.

She grabbed one of the fighting sticks stocked in the shop. These simple primitive sticks were very popular with new adventurers, since they were cheap and useful. However, for some reason, most adventurers have a tendency to lose these sticks which was why [Haru-chan] have it as part of their small weapons stock.

“Yes, this stick is perfect, wa.”

She flattened out the ball of dough into a rough rectangular shape about half a centimetre thick. After dusting a little flour over the flat dough, she began to cut it into strips.

“Un, it’s a little to keep each strip the same width, ne…”

Natalia who was unfamiliar with noodle dishes looked at Haruna’s actions curiously.

The regulars were also looking steadily at the Haruna’s action, wondering just what she was going to do next. Haruna had a track record of coming up with out of this world dishes that were amazingly delicious.

“After this, put plenty of water into a pot and boil it using fire magic… once it starts to boil, put in the noodles…”

While the noodle was boiling, it’s time to make the sauce.

Thick noodles like these would taste better with thicker sauce.

There were no soy sauce here, but they do have olive oil and various kinds of herbs, spices and condiments.

She could probably used the local ingredients to make something like a pasta sauce.

“Since it’s for adventurers, let’s make it a little saltier. Next, we flavour it with herbs and a bit of olive oil, add a bit of roughly chopped up sausages. Hmm…”

She stuck a finger into the sauce and licked it to check the flavour.

“Um, not bad! Less Seto Inland Sea and more of a Mediterranean Channel! Though I’ve never actually been there!”

By now, the people in this world were quite accustomed to Haruna randomly spouting out words that nobody could understand.

“Ah yes, is there anyone who could use ice magic?”

“I can do it, but I can only make regular frozen ice, no really useful fighting stuff.” Natalia put up her hand.

“Yes! Excellent, make some ice!”

Natalia quickly turned a large bowl of water into ice.

The boiled udon noodles were taken out of the pot, and were immediately plunged into the icy water.

After swishing it quickly through the water, it was quickly taken out again, the water shaken off vigorously. Haruna had to more or less do this by hand since she had no chopsticks or strainer at hand.

Finally, the shaken noodles were plopped into a plate and special pasta sauce was drixxled over the top —

“Old Saxon Style Udon complete!”

The way to eat this udon and special sauce is to swirl the noodles with a fork, catching as much of the sauce as you can and bring it to your mouth.

“Nom! This is something irresistible on a hot day, ya na! For some reason, when I eat this I feel like I’m dining like an aristocrat!

Water began to gather in the mouths of all the people who were watching Haruna enjoying herself.

“Ah, everyone, would you like to try it?”

Haruna offered her fork to the regular customers.

There was an impromptu battle to be the first person to grab the fork. Actually, rather than a right to taste the dish first, the adventurers were excited for another reason.

“That fork was licked by Haruna!”

“I will taste it first!”

“Just a little taste! I want the full body experience!”

Since the adventurers in front of her were all men, there was no sense of delicacy or tact, their male hormones were actually quite blistering…

Natalia, who was watching this disaster, quickly snatched the fork away and washed it under running water.

It went without saying that their honourable patrons were all very disappointed.

“Oh, I’m so happy that everyone is so interested in tasting it!”

Natalia’s words bled with sarcasm, which made the regulars hung their heads with a little shame.

In the end, a fork was handed out to all the regulars, and one by one, they all tried the mysterious udon thing.

Curious white, tender noodles, with a rather slippery texture that slid easily into the mouth.

“This is the first time I taste something like this!”

“This is wonderful, it’s almost like a drink! It’s like I’m eating and drinking at the same time!”

“This seems like something the demon folk would like too!”

Noodle Dish from Another World have garnered favourable reception within the locals.

“There’s  a certain strange attraction to noodles, naa, I heard that there were some people who ate it like they were addicted.”

Thus, the tasting portion of the first noodle dish soon disappeared.

“Would this be added to the menu?” asked Natalia, and given the immediate answer, “It’s a must, a must item, wa!”

From then on, an udon-like dish was added to [Haru-chan’s] menu.

 

[1] Natto – Japanese fermented food – It’s very healthy!

Just an interesting aside, a local Japanese told me that there was a time in Japan that natto had fallen out of fashion and could only be found in speciality shops. Just when it looked like natto was about to die out, some scientist found that natto is a great weight lost food and… well, the rest is history. You can now find natto in just about any type of grocery store that has refrigerators!

[2] Udon – The ultimate comfort food – Here’s a lovely chapter from the manga Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san about udon for colds

https://mangakakalot.com/chapter/maikosan_chi_no_makanaisan/chapter_33

[3] Dashi – Broth

[4] Katsuobushi – The dried fish – It’s kind of difficult to explain, so here’s a youtube video

[5] Konbu – Seaweed

[6] Kake soba – Wet soba or soba in soups

[7] Pho – Vietnamese rice noodle – Here’s a pho recipe I like

[8] Bukkake – Wet style or sauce style

 

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