Cheesy curry hotpot udon

Japanese curry is pretty well-known by many people in the UK. But, what is less well known, is the Japanese love of putting cheese on top of curry. It's a decadent and rich combination well worth a try, especially when paired with plenty of udon and abura-age, or deep fried tofu.

Extracted from JapanEasy Bowls & Bento by Tim Anderson (Hardie Grant, £25), Photography ©Laura Edwards

First published in 2022

Tim Anderson says: “Nabeyaki udon is udon cooked and served in a small hotpot (a nabe), with a wide variety of toppings and regional variations. Because the noodles, broth and toppings are all cooked together in the same vessel, it’s one of the easiest Japanese noodle dishes to prepare, as well as one of the most warming and satisfying. Even more so if you combine it with cheesy curry, because cheesy curry makes everything better.

This recipe gives instructions to cook two servings together in one pot, but it’s much better if you can make each portion in its own smaller pot (and this way everybody gets their own egg!). So, if you happen to have two smaller nabe or casserole (about 20cm in diameter, 700ml capacity each), then divide the ingredients between them and cook them separately."




  • 800ml of boiling water
  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms, 6-8g
  • 1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp chicken stock granules
  • 1/2 tsp dashi powder
  • 80g of Japanese curry roux, finely chopped
  • 2 handfuls of kale leaves, about 80g, destemmed and roughly torn or chopped
  • 2 baby leeks, cut into 1cm-thick slices at an angle, or 4 spring onions
  • 2 portions of fresh or frozen udon noodles
  • 1 medium egg, or two if you're making two individual portions
  • 50g of mozzarella cheese, or mild Cheddar, grated
  • 20g of deep-fried tofu puffs, abura-age, cut into pieces about 2.5cm wide (optional)
  • 100g of firm tofu, cut into 1cm thick slices


  • 22cm, 1.5l round casserole dish



Combine the water and mushrooms in a medium-sized (about 22 cm diameter, 1.5 litre capacity) hotpot or casserole and leave to soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients


When the mushrooms have rehydrated fully, squeeze them dry and discard their stems


Bring the water to a high simmer and add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock powder, dashi powder and curry roux

  • 1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp chicken stock granules
  • 1/2 tsp dashi powder
  • 80g of Japanese curry roux, finely chopped

Use a whisk to dissolve the roux, then add the mushrooms, kale and leeks


Boil for about 4 minutes until the veg are tender, then add the udon

  • 2 portions of fresh or frozen udon noodles

Let the liquid come back to the boil, then crack the egg into the centre of the soup and top with the cheese


Place a lid on the pan and cook for another 3–4 minutes so the egg sets and the cheese melts


Top with the tofu and serve immediately – ideally, this should still be bubbling when you tuck in

First published in 2022

Tim Anderson is a chef, writer, restaurateur, and MasterChef champion.

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