This spicy tomato udon with shrimp is the jammy, spicy, and all around delicious Asian recipe with tomatoes that you will love.
History First, Spicy Shrimp Udon Second:
Before we talk about this incredible spicy tomato udon with shrimp, let’s take a little walk through history and talk about the tomato.
Many people associate tomatoes with Italian food. Of course, it makes sense if not for the nuanced variety of tomato sauces throughout Italy. The reality is that tomatoes didn’t arrive in Italy until 1548 after they were taken from the Aztecs by the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes. Previous to that, tomatoes were grown in regions of the New World including Ecuador, Chile, and Peru. It took a few hundred years for Italians to even warm up to the ingredient. But once they did, the world of tomato-centric Italian food was born.
Interestingly enough, tomatoes had a similar trajectory in China. They arrived sometime around the 16th or 17th century and the reception was similar. There was a touch of confusion but people were still curious. Tomatoes never caught on as a universal ingredient as they did in Italy, but they still play an important role in certain Chinese cuisines. For westerners who may wonder whether there are an abundance of Asian recipes with tomatoes, the answer is YES, at least in China. Try Chinese stir-fried tomato and eggs or Tomato beef noodle soup.
While I won’t touch on every single Asian country, Japan is interesting. Tomatoes were brought to Japan by Dutch and Portuguese sailors who brought the fruit with them from China and Southeast Asia. From 1600 to early 1900, tomatoes were mainly used as ornamental fruits. Throughout the 1900s, the popularity of the tomato transformed. It was prepared as a salad or side dish and ketchup grew in popularity.
How to Make this Udon with Tomatoes:
Tomatoes are certainly not an integral part of Japanese cuisine, but a simple tomato salad with soy vinaigrette is a very popular dish in Japan. All that to say, while tomatoes in many Japanese or Chinese dishes may be lesser known to western palates, it works incredibly well with a sesame-soy flavor profile. Which takes us to…the recipe!
This spicy tomato udon with shrimp leverages the tomato’s jammy sweetness and pairs it against a spicy, sesame-soy based sauce. We load it with garlic and Thai chili peppers and finish the dish with a chili-oil soaked almond garnish.
Make this recipe and watch your whole family thank you graciously. It’s that good and it’s that easy to make.
First, prepare the tomato sauce. Simply sauté tomatoes and onion and softened and beginning to char. Add butter and then add minced chili peppers, garlic, and scallion whites. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, and a touch of fish sauce and sugar. Throw in some chicken stock and bring to a boil. Let the sauce simmer vigorously for about 30-40 minutes until thickened and reduced.
While the sauce cooks, prepare the chili oil almonds. All you need is 3/4 cup chili oil and 1 cup blanched, thinly sliced almonds. Combine them on the stove top and let them bubble away on low heat for about 20 minutes until the almonds are golden brown. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Next, cook the noodles. Drain, rinse, and set aside. Lastly, throw the shrimp in the sauce and let them cook until just cooked through. Toss in the noodles and turn off the heat. Garnish with that delicious crispy spicy almond garnish and you’re ready to be in heaven.
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Spicy Tomato Udon with Shrimp
- Small pot
- Medium pot
Spicy Tomato Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 yellow onion peeled and thinly sliced into half-moons
- 4 Roma tomatoes trimmed
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 Thai chili peppers optional, trimmed and minced
- 10 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 4 scallions minced, white and green parts separated
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce optional
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 pound shrimp peeled and deveined, tails on or removed, as preferred
- 16 ounces fresh or frozen udon noodles
- Salt and pepper to taste
Chili Oil Almonds
- ½ cup chili oil
- 1 cup blanched thinly sliced almonds
- Salt to taste
Start the Tomato Sauce:
- Heat the avocado oil in a wide pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and tomatoes and cook for 7-10 minutes until softened and beginning to char. Season with salt.
- Melt the butter into the tomatoes. Add the minced garlic, Thai chili peppers, and white parts of the scallions and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
Simmer the Sauce:
- Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and fish sauce. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Taste and season to your preferences. Reduce heat to just slightly above low and hard simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes. If the sauce reduces too quickly or too much, turn the heat to very low and add a splash of water.
Prepare the Chili Oil Almonds:
- Combine the chili oil and almonds in a small pot and turn the heat to low. Cook in the oil for 20 minutes until the almonds are golden brown. Turn off the heat and stir in the green parts of the scallions. Season lightly with salt and set aside.
Cook the Noodles:
- Cook the udon noodles according to package instructions. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
Cook the Shrimp:
- Add the shrimp the sauce. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes until just barely cooked through.
Finish the Udon:
- Toss the udon in with the shrimp and continue tossing to coat until the udon is warmed through.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the chili oil almonds to the udon and toss to coat. Turn off the heat.
- Divide the udon between bowls. Spoon a teaspoon or two of the almonds on to each dish. Reserve any excess chili oil almonds for another use. Enjoy!