Carbonara-ish Stir-Fried Udon With Gochujang

American

Stir-Fried Udon With Bacon, Parmesan & Gochujang

March  4, 2021
15 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis.
Author Notes

No one can resist a chubby udon noodle, and this recipe is no different. I've already shared my love for frozen udon bricks, which I always have at the ready in the freezer. You're never far from a quick meal when these pre-cooked noodles are around, as they need less than a minute in a hot water bath before being resuscitated to chewy goodness.

This recipe for spicy udon noodles is how I like to off-road family-favorite carbonara (which I acknowledge this dish certainly is not!) when I'm in the mood for something with a kick. The dish takes inspiration from the Korean pantry, Japanese-style wafu pasta, and the saucy technique from beloved Roman carbonara. As with all stir-fry recipes, the key to success here is to have all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go as it all comes together very quickly.

First, bacon chunks, chopped scallions, and garlic get sautéed before meeting gochujang and udon noodles. Gochujang is in a class of its own in terms of flavor. While it lends spice and heat, there's also an inherent smokiness, slight sweetness, and umami that is highly addictive. Outside of Korean cuisine, I like to experiment with gochujang in recipes that might call for tomato paste to help give a nuanced layer of heat in the background. By all means, add a bit more in this recipe if you prefer it more spicy.

The whole thing gets even better after being combined with eggs and Parmesan, helping to mute some of the heat and give the noodles a silky richness. The heat from the noodles will be just enough to emulsify the cheese and egg yolk mixture, creating a beautiful, thick sauce that you can loosen a bit with the addition of the udon cooking water.

These chubby, silky noodles are just the ticket for zapping you out of your weeknight dinner doldrums. —Hana Asbrink

Watch This Recipe
Stir-Fried Udon With Bacon, Parmesan & Gochujang
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 2
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • 2 slices of thick-cut bacon, sliced into 1/4-inch strips or lardons
  • 3 to 4 scallions, thinly sliced (reserve 1 tablespoon scallion greens for garnish)
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang
  • 2 blocks frozen udon noodles
  • 1/2 cup reserved udon cooking water (you will not be using this all)
  • 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 pinch kosher salt (optional) and coarsely ground black pepper (not optional), plus more to taste
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Bring a medium pot filled with water to boil for the udon.
  2. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add the bacon, scallions, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Let the bacon fat render slowly and saute all until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Monitor the heat and lower it if it browns too quickly.
  3. In the meantime, in a medium or large mixing bowl, add the egg yolks. Add the cheese, pinch of salt and coarsely ground pepper (at least 8 to 10 turns). It will look like a paste at this point, but the udon cooking water will loosen it up shortly. Set aside.
  4. Lower the skillet’s heat to low. Add the soy sauce and gochujang and "fry" in the bacon's oil. Coat the bacon mixture with the gochujang.
  5. Cook udon noodles according to package instructions (usually 45 to 60 seconds). They are already cooked, so you are just warming them through and gently releasing them from their caked state with tongs or chopsticks. It’s important not to overcook them. Reserve about ½ cup of udon cooking water. Drain in a colander and add the udon noodles to the pan (alternately, you can also use a spider strainer to lift up and drain the udon noodles from the pot and into the skillet—it’s okay to have a bit of the residual water clinging on). Toss until well-combined and udon noodles are coated in the gochujang-bacon sauce. Turn off the heat.
  6. To the mixing bowl with the egg-cheese mixture, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the reserved udon cooking water and mix to form a slightly looser paste. Add the udon noodles and toss until well- combined (you can also add the egg-cheese mixture to the pan that’s off the heat, being careful not to curdle or scramble the eggs). Drizzle in a bit of sesame oil. Season with salt (optional) and pepper (not optional), to your taste. Give it another toss before plating. Top with reserved scallion greens and more coarsely ground pepper, if you’d like. Serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mel Mark
    Mel Mark
  • Amy Hastings
    Amy Hastings
  • Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta
    Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta
  • Tenni W
    Tenni W
  • Hana Asbrink
    Hana Asbrink

    23 Reviews

    Kayoko21 March 3, 2021
    I can’t get enough of this dish. I’ve made this recipe 4x since seeing this post. So delicious!
     
    Mel M. February 24, 2021
    Is there anything I can sub for the bacon? I don’t eat pork but love the sound of this dish!!
     
    Author Comment
    Hana A. February 25, 2021
    Hi Mel - Thanks so much for your interest! I've had some vegetarian/vegan friends have good luck with shiitakes (I think both dried and fresh could work), as well as as smoked tempeh. Also vegan cheese, if that's up your alley. Good luck and enjoy! :)
     
    Mel M. February 25, 2021
    Awesome thanks for responding!! I will definitely try with shiitakes or maybe some other kind of meat! So so excited to try this!
     
    Alexandraslp8 February 20, 2021
    This was absolutely delicious and so easy to throw together for a quick dinner. Love the silkiness of the sauce and the beautiful combination of flavors. What a great marriage of cuisines! Thanks for this recipe— I always have frozen udon noodles on hand and this will be my new favorite way to use them!
     
    savkthom February 19, 2021
    I made this twice this past week, it was that good. Definitely an occasion to break out the good parmesan and go heavy on the freshly ground pepper. I did not have the frozen udon bricks, but cooking the noodles from dried turned out just as well.
     
    austindoughs February 11, 2021
    I looove this dish! A beautiful collaboration of gochujang, green onion, egg, and parm. The udon noodles hold the sauce beautifully. My roommates all needed to know this recipe so that they could make it themselves...I hope to fold this into my regularly made dishes
     
    Ladbroke February 4, 2021
    This was delicious! I was a little worried as could only find vacuum packed udon noodles near me (I’m in London and we’re all currently locked down so it’s all about the neighbourhood) but they worked fine, This dish went down a treat on a rainy cold and grey Thursday lunchtime. Thanks for this and look forward to trying more!
     
    Amy H. January 30, 2021
    This recipe is going to be part of our regular rotation. Creamy, spicy, and perfect for these cold winter nights!
     
    Marian January 29, 2021
    This recipe was delicious, and easy to make. Perfect for a cold winter evening's dinner!
     
    Inky January 27, 2021
    Made this tonight and so good! Such a great weeknight meal as this recipe uses ingredients I always have on hand and super easy to make! The udon is delicious up to mixing it with the gochujang sauce but it definitely kicks it up a notch with the carbonara-ish mixture. Genius combination! Don't skimp on the pepper!
     
    david2mule January 27, 2021
    I just made this and realized there is no step about cooking the egg yolk?
     
    Author Comment
    Hana A. January 27, 2021
    Hi david2mule - It's in Step 6: The heat of the noodles "cook" the egg and cheese mixture, in the style of a carbonara pasta. Thanks for making the recipe and hope you enjoyed it!
     
    little.anomaly January 25, 2021
    Where does everyone find their noodles? I have a hard time finding udon, ramen,etc. I live in the Midwest so we aren’t exactly a culinary center.
     
    Winter January 25, 2021
    I located mine by searching "sanukiya udon noodles" and picking one of the options that come up from Mercato. The company that makes them, Shirakiku, has other options on Amazon, too. I hope that helps!
     
    Chelsea January 26, 2021
    I found it at the first asian market I checked out. Can't wait to make this!!
     
    Belinda C. February 1, 2021
    I found some packaged udon noodles in the asian section of Walmart
     
    Jocooks00! February 2, 2021
    I just found them in the frozen foods at Kroger in Peachtree City, GA!?! 🤷🏻‍♀️
     
    Winter January 25, 2021
    This is immediately in my favorite meals. It combined cuisines I love to make a dish I adore. The gentle heat of the gochujang plays perfectly against the carbonara base. I found the frozen bricks of udon and they are, in a word, magical. I can't wait to make this for friends and family one day.
     
    Author Comment
    Hana A. January 27, 2021
    Hi Winter - Thank you so much for the positive feedback! Yes, the frozen udon bricks are amazing. I also hope you can make this for friends and family in post-pandemic times. Take care!
     
    Maxine K. January 24, 2021
    Looking forward to trying this with soba or konjak noodles. Now to stock up on gochujang.
     
    Tenni W. January 22, 2021
    Hana's combination of Korean, Japanese, and Roman ingredients and techniques is GENIUS. This should qualify as one of those genius recipes :) The components complement each other incredibly well. This meal (or awesome snack?) is rich, full of umami, layered with flavors and textures, and instantly comforting. It's a new favorite around my house and I immediately sent the recipe to my friends and family, urging them to try it. I'll do the same here, too: Go make this!
     
    Author Comment
    Hana A. January 27, 2021
    Wow, Tenni! Thank you so much for your incredible review, I'm so humbled. I'm so glad you enjoyed it and hope you make it for yourself again. Take care!