Sanuki Udon and Story behind Kamatama Udon

Back in September, I had the pleasure of meeting, cooking and going on an udon tour with a cookmapper from Kagawa, the udon noodle capital of Japan. We talked (and tasted) all things udon and I even learned how to cook one of the simplest of udon dishes you won’t always find at the shops – Kamatama Udon (yes, there is a recipe! Keep reading :).

When it comes to udon, Kagawa is the place to go as it’s home to Japan’s most famous – and as some might argue the best – Sanuki Udon. In fact, Kagawa has the highest per capita consumption of udon in the nation!

Kagawa is located in the Shikoku region of Japan. (Image: Wikipedia)

The name “Sanuki Udon” comes from the historical name of Kagawa prefecture, “Sanuki,” which was used up until the beginning of the Meiji Period (late 1800s). In terms of udon, it’s now used as a kind of brand name to denote the style of udon made in Kagawa.

What makes Sanuki udon different from other kinds? One is the shape and texture. Sanuki udon is cut into long, square-shaped noodles and have a soft yet extra chewy texture arising from the way the dough is kneaded and rolled, as well as a special ratio of water to salt to flour. The broth used for the soup or dipping sauce is typically made from small dried sardines called iriko, though it may differ depending on the shop.

Udon shops in Shikoku are often semi-self-serve, cafeteria style – grab a tray, choose your type of udon from the menu (which is prepared for you on the spot), and lastly pick up any optional pre-fried tempura to go on the side. Here are some of the things you might find on the menu…

Zaru udon
Zaru Udon – drained and chilled udon served with a concentrated soup for dipping

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5 Authentic Recipes from Alsace, France

Alsace! You know, that picturesque, quaint corner of eastern France? That place with hillsides covered in Riesling and Gewurztraminer grapevines? In case you’re not so familiar with Alsace, it’s one of France’s smallest regions and lays on the border of southwestern Germany. It’s well known for its dry Riesling and other white wines, beautiful countryscapes, lively outdoor Christmas markets and German inspired architecture.

Map of Alsace
Alsace on the map (from google maps)

While there is a lot that’s awesome about Alsace, we’re here to talk about the food. Better yet, we spent a couple months searching for and talking to Alsatian home cooks, restaurant owners and expats living in France so we could dig up some amazing authentic recipes to introduce to you on Cookmap!

So what’s so special about Alsatian cuisine anyway? First off, Alsace is a close neighbor with southern Germany and at one point was actually annexed into the Germany empire, therefore although Alsace is part of France now, its food tends to follow that of German tradition (with its own Alsatian touches of course). You’ll find Alsatian sauerkraut, all sorts of pork, sausage and potato dishes, Alsatian pretzels called mauricettes and plenty of Alsatian sweets. Some of the most well known dishes are baeckeoffe (potatoes and meat baked with Alsatian wine), flammekueche (a creamy bacon and onion flat bread. See more below!), choucroute (sauerkraut loaded with sausages and pork), fleischnacka (meat stuffed and rolled up in egg pasta) and bredele (spiced holiday cookies that come in endless varieties). A local specialty in Sundgau in southern Alsace are carp fritters and everyone probably knows glühwein, or mulled wine, a German-inspired winter warmer drunk at Alsatian Christmas markets and cold days at home.

Anyways, enough talk – let’s get to the recipes! We have five special recipes (complete with step-by-step photos) from five special contributors. We’ve personally tested all them ourselves and made sure they’ve been translated to English and other languages so more of you can enjoy. You can see the recipes by clicking on the titles, photos or links in the article below :)

Tarte Flambée or Flammekueche

Tarte Flammbe
Photo courtesy of the Ashley Abroad blog

Again, this is one of Alsace’s most famous dishes, and you might think of Tarte Flambée (or Flammekueche as they say in Alsatian) as Alsace’s own special kind of pizza, though in the end, it turns out quite different than any Italian style pie: Rather than a soft, fluffy dough, tarte flambée has an ultra-thin crispy crust; and instead of a tomato sauce base topped with melted cheese, it has a creamy white sauce spiced with nutmeg. The original tarte flambée recipe is topped with only lardons (= a kind of bacon) and thinly sliced onions, but you can find variations that use munster cheese, mushrooms or even turn it into an oven-fired dessert!

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Hello Delicious World!

Recipe Photos

Welcome to the Cookmap blog, the companion to the cookmap.com recipe site where you’ll find interesting stories and reports from the field!

Just to give a little introduction, Cookmap is a recipe mapping project all about recording, archiving and sharing authentic, local recipes and where the came from.

Recipes on Cookmap are from you! Whether you’re a home cook proud of your old family dishes, a traveling foodie who loves exploring local foods, or someone who’s fallen in love with the cuisine from a certain region, Cookmap is here to help you make sure your special recipes will always be around to be cooked, shared and loved by others for years and years to come.

We’re just getting started but already have so many stories to share from visiting, interviewing and cooking with local cooks and foodies. So stay tuned, because I think you’ll love what we have in store!

In the meantime, if you have your own special recipe to share, head on over to Cookmap.com to get started!

Happy cooking :)

– Felice @ Cookmap