It’s that time of year where everything seems to slow down. Days seem long even though there is maybe 5 minutes of daylight, all of it spent inside. People scurry to the gym to sweat it out for a few weeks then surrender into a pint of Häagen-Dazs.
Luckily for me, I have a window to see the short days slowly go by and have made no resolutions this year. The will to make any kind of promise got lost somewhere between falling asleep 10 times making it to midnight and burping a 3 month old the rest of it.
However, a guy can only take so many ham sandwiches and drab lunches before January starts getting to him.
So I hit the fridge one frosty day to see what I could whip up in short order.
One of my most beloved food groups is Asian cuisines. I was always a fan of Dragon Wall growing up, probably our most famous Chinese eatery back then. Lucky my taste has grown along with me and I branched out. A few years back, we were invited to a Korean barbecue by one of my wife’s coworkers and it was enlightening.
Instead of one guy with a kiss the chef apron on drinking a cold one making everyone a burger, everyone is involved. You sit around a table with all the fixings from kimchee to thick sliced bacon and lettuce wraps, making your own snake bite servings until you get your fill.
Fast forward a few years and my wife and I found ourselves looking for a small eatery in Tokyo, Japan. Having tired all their weird takes on classics like burgers and pizza, we dove into more traditional fare.
My wife had the unfortunate condition of being pregnant on the trip — and anything fish related was not sitting right with her. Unlucky to be in the country that eats fish 24/7, we settled on a nice little ramen shop.
Looking past my wife’s inability to eat much of hers, I was in food heaven. Real ramen, not the 20 cent packs from Walmart, is a true masterpiece food. It has everything you need in a well put together bowl. If you have the chance to try real ramen, I highly suggest it.
On the crazy long plane ride back, I was hitting the udon soup hard. Udon noodles are pretty much spaghetti on steroids. They slurp and taste as close to Japanese comfort food as you are going to find.
Searching my fridge I found all the fixings for one of my long forgotten favorite quick meals, teriyaki udon with honey glazed chicken. While not healthy in any stretch of the imagination, it’s perfect for cold January days. You can substitute grilled chicken breast with the popcorn chicken I use.
Teriyaki udon with honey glazed chicken
8 oz. udon noodles
½ cup popcorn chicken or cubed chicken breast
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1-2 tsp. Sriracha
1 large garlic clove minced
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup mixed vegetables
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon butter
1. Cook popcorn chicken according to package directions. I air fry mine to get it crisp and cut down on time. If using chicken breast, heat in your preferred method.
2. Cook udon noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Whisk together soy sauce, water, vinegar, maple syrup, garlic and corn starch in small bowl. Set aside.
3. Heat oil in large skillet or wok if you’re fancy enough to own one. Place over high heat. Add mixed vegetables. Stir fry until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes.
4. Add noodles and soy sauce mixture. Stir fry another minute, using a fork to pull noodles apart. Remove from heat.
5. In a small sauce pot, add butter and honey over medium heat until melted and combined. Toss chicken until evenly coated.
6. Put udon mixture into bowl and top with the honey chicken.