When I discovered a package of frozen udon in the freezer, I was delighted. My cravings spoke loudly and decisively. I knew instantly that I wanted to enjoy it in this easy coconut curry noodle bowl. Since we limit grains including wheat these days, we rarely slurp down any noodles (made from wheat) at home anymore. I cherished this bowl of udon with my entire being.
So much so that a feeling of guilt started to creep in. I can only eat a meal like this when my 6 year old, Aubrie, is not at home because for the last 4 months (feels like forever already), she has been following a paleo-ish diet based on the directives of a naturopath. I first mentioned it over here. Gluten-based asian noodles like udon, ramen and somen -- previous staples in our house -- are forbidden. Don't get me wrong, I'm no martyr. My husband and I sneak 'Contraband Food' all the time. I don't feel bad at all when it's junk food that is no good for her. But a fairly healthy bowl of noodles like this, made with nutrient-rich broth and spices, is something I know she would have happily devoured beside me. Let's just say I started questioning whether we as parents have chosen the right path on her behalf. And I'll leave it at that. I'm sure some of you other parents can relate.
And I'm sure you actually came for noodles right? Don't let me get in the way :)
GLUTEN-FREE SUBSTITUTE: For a gluten-free version of this noodle bowl, substitute the udon with rice noodles, such as Vietnamese flat rice noodles or Chinese thin vermicelli noodles. We have this often and these taste equally amazing in this soup!
MAKE IN ADVANCE: I use homemade chicken bone broth in all my soups. You can find my bone broth recipe here. I make a big batch at a time and freeze them in glass jars and also some in a silicon ice cube tray with those massive 1/2 cup capacities ever since I bought one similar to this. It's very handy to have around for noodle soup bowl like this in a jiffy.
NOTE: Although I enjoyed this as a lunch on my own, I scaled up the recipe below to 4 full servings. It's easily divisible by 2 or 4 if you want half the portion or just enough for 1 person, respectively. See, that's why we learned math in school :)
Easy Coconut Curry Seafood Udon
Recipe serves 4.
For the soup:
1 tbsp coconut oil
3 stalks lemongrass, lower 4" and outer layer removed if it's tough
1/2 tsp ground turmeric powder
2 tsp curry powder
6 C chicken broth, homemade unsalted or low sodium if store-bought
1 C full fat coconut milk
2 tsp kosher salt (use LESS if using store-bought chicken broth containing salt)
For assembling the bowls:
2 lbs (1 kg) frozen udon noodles, boiled according to package directions (sub rice noodles for gluten-free, see headnotes)
1 C frozen corn kernels
10-12 shrimp, deshelled and patted dry
10-12 scallops, patted dry
1 bunch asparagus, woody stems removed (or other green veggie of your choice)
1. Put a large pot of water to boil for cooking the udon. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium to medium-high heat for searing the shrimp, scallops and asparagus.
2. Heat a second 10 Cup / 2.5 Quart pot over medium heat. Give the lemongrass a few good bashes with the flat side of your knife to release it's aromatics. You can also cut it lengthwise down the middle if the stalk is quite thick. Either way, we don’t eat the lemongrass stalks - they’re there for flavour. Put coconut oil (or any oil of your choosing) into the pot and toss the lemongrass in it to further release it's flavors. Move it around for 10-15 seconds. Add the turmeric and curry powders, scraping with a wooden spoon or spatula in the oil so it doesn't burn. Add the bone broth and coconut milk. Season with salt. [ Note: I used 1/2 tsp of kosher salt (Diamond Crystal brand) but you will need to adjust based on your personal taste, the type of salt you use and whether your broth is already salted or not (my broth was completely unsalted). ] Mix it to incorporate well and allow the soup to come to a gentle boil. The soup is done. Easy right? Turn down to a gentle simmer as you are completing the other steps.
3. In the preheated skillet, add a touch of oil and sear the shrimp and scallops. Make sure you have patted them dry with paper towels. Sear them in batches if needed in order to not crowd the pan. Over crowding will result in steaming rather than searing. Shrimp takes about 2 minutes per side or until pink, opaque and curled. Scallops take about the same time or a bit longer if like me, you prefer them well done. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside.
4. [ Update: after making this several times, I cut out some effort by tossing the asparagus directly into the simmering broth along with the frozen corn kernels until heated through.] Into the same pan, adding a tiny bit more oil if needed, saute the asparagus, rolling them around intermittently for even cooking on all sides, until desired tenderness. While waiting for the asparagus to cook, put the frozen corn kernels directly into the hot broth to warm it though, making sure the broth returns to a simmer before serving.
5. While the asparagus is cooking, cook the udon according to package directions. My brand of udon cooks in a mere 1 minute from frozen. Drain and divide among the 4 serving bowls.
6. To serve, divide the seared shrimp, scallops and asparagus amond the bowls. Ladle the hot soup with with corn kernels over each portion. Serve immediately while hot.
If you like this recipe, pin it to Pinterest! You can also leave me a comment below to let me know what you think of this post - I would love that. If you make the recipe and post it to Instagram, tag your post with #saltnpepperhere so I can peep you :)