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cali style udon xx my love story xx


By: Candice Kumai

when I was a kid, I used to get teased back home in Cali for being Japanese.

I think the most painful memories are vibrant because it was simply who I was, and I really liked being half Japanese.

as I got older, I realized my differences were my gift… I already knew how to cook Japanese from mom + I knew how to travel through Japan 🇯🇵 like a local.
I used California 🍜ingredients like 🥑 avocados and Cali mushrooms in my recipe development: I put myself thru culinary school in Ca and in Tokyo. I cooked on the line at the Laguna Ritz And at Roy’s in DTLA. I watched the artists in my family, work with passion. I created only original work.

I later began to write more openly about who I was & when I wrote my last book; Kintsugi & there was so much pain that came through the pages, surprisingly cathartic.

It’s Valentine’s Day + I’m sharing with you a recipe I love, and ways that I figured out to love myself…my Cali style 🍜 udon (recipe below and in my book Kintsugi Wellness) & all of my books… It’s me, it’s mom, it’s a legacy. It’s simple love.

As I begin to write a new show concept for japan & the us, I’m reminded of the pain we can use to fuel our progress. I’m reminded we must all find ways to love deeper. #kintsugi

Life wasn’t designed to be easy, #wabisabi.

it is through food and writing I find I can share with you, a legacy of love .. the story of Japan and the US is my life’s anthem. What’s yours?
Find what brings you more true love, it’s not always in other people, it’s in yourself & your life’s experiences & passions, too ♥️xx ck

PS it’s like EVERY Hapa girl gets this post + yeah boys, we know…  xxx


cali-style udon

Serves 4

Growing up, udon was a staple dish in our household. Mom was always crafting up delicious homemade dashi broth and throwing in all kinds of fresh local veggies. Topping my noodles off with greens, kabocha, avos and of course some furikake or gomashio is still my favorite way to enjoy udon. I prefer to cook with the thick udon noodles (fresh or frozen) versus dried, because this is the way mom did it.


8 cups purified water 4 pieces kombu


2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1⁄2 yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 cups bunashimeji mushrooms (bottoms removed) or shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced

2 tablespoons mirin


1 cup fresh white corn kernels, shaved from about 2 ears

4 slices kamaboko (love the pink!), thinly sliced (optional)

1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced

1 cup katsuobushi (Japanese dried bonito flakes)

1 teaspoon organic granulated white sugar

1⁄4 cup reduced-sodium tamari soy sauce

Three 8-ounce packages frozen udon noodles, or 8 to 10 ounces dried udon noodles

1⁄2 sheet nori, cut into small strips 1 cup arugula, or baby spinach

1 tablespoon black gomashio Tōgarashi, for topping


1- Prepare the homemade dashi, or broth: In a medium saucepan over me- dium high heat, bring the kombu pieces and water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off heat. Add the katsuobushi and set aside until infused, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Strain, and reserve the liquid. You’ve got dashi!

2- Make the udon soup: In a separate medium to large stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the thinly sliced onion and sauté until fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté 4 to 5 min- utes more.

3- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the mirin and deglaze the pan, then continue to cook, stirring, to evaporate all the liquid. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the sugar and tamari soy sauce.

4- Carefully pour in the homemade dashi, bring to a light simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes.

5- In a separate pot, bring water to a boil, add the fresh udon noodles, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or as directed on the package. Remove from heat, rinse and drain to cool.

6- To serve, divide the noodles among four bowls and ladle in soup. Topwith freshly shaved corn, a slice of kamaboko (if using), avocado slices,nori, spinach, and gomashio. Sprinkle with with tōgarashi and your desired toppings. Itadakimasu!

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