Udon noodles with sesame dipping sauce (gomadare udon)

This is the simplest of cool, light summer lunches. I served it with a side of spinach blanched in the water used for the udon and some quickly pan-seared tofu — if weather really won’t permit standing at the stove any longer, though, cold tofu would be delicious too.




  1. Mix all the sauce ingredients except for the water together in a small bowl. The resulting mixture should be a thick paste and may be a little grainy. Add the dashi stock or water a tablespoon at a time until the sauce thins to your desired consistency. I found that I preferred it a little thinner so that it coats the noodles more evenly. That’s it! Adjust to taste if needed — a tad more mirin and sugar can correct for bitterness if you find the sesame paste is a bit harsh, and a little more soy sauce will add saltiness, especially if you opt for water instead of dashi to thin. When you’re done, serve with cold udon noodles, green onions, and nori, and enjoy!


I usually think of nori as an optional garnish, but I was surprised by how it added just the right salty touch here — so I think if you can use it, do. If you’re thinning the sauce with a dashi stock that has kombu, though, it’ll add the same sea-breeze savoriness that I liked so much in the nori.

Speaking of dashi, you can make your own (see Nami’s amazing tutorials for awase dashi and kombu dashi) or you can buy dashi powder from a Japanese supermarket. Either one will work — and if all you have is water, that’s just fine too.

Soba buckwheat noodles would be amazing as a gluten-free (or just plain tasty) alternative for dipping, since they’re also delicious cold.

If you don’t have mirin or sake on hand, a bit of seasoned rice vinegar will work as a good substitute, though you may need to adjust for sweetness with a little more sugar.

Finally, if you have a surplus of sesame seeds and don’t feel like buying sesame paste specifically for this, you can easily make your own sesame paste — just toast the seeds briefly until browned and fragrant, then whiz in a food processor, adding a few teaspoons of oil at a time, until it reaches a smooth consistency.