Udon-Wrapped Shrimp is my Childhood Do-Over

fried udon-wrapped shrimp

Okay. I was a little tough on modern day kids and their eating habits in my last post. So I thought it was only fair to set the record straight on my own (less than perfect) childhood food foibles. This Fried Udon-Wrapped Shrimp with Cucumber Salad recipe is a grown-up “do-over” from my very own childhood.

When I was a kid, there was nothing better than dinner out at a Chinese restaurant. My mother would get all dressed up like a movie star and my dad (then a young medical intern) would arrange his 16 hour shifts so that he could actually eat dinner with us. My brother, sister and I would even make an effort to behave in the car.

That’s because we were off to the land of all you can eat stale-crispy-noodles and fried shrimp– a place where we’d be allowed to drink hot tea and totally amp out on caffeine. Quiet and reserved was my typical modus operandi in public places (I wasn’t just a wallflower at this age I was wallpaper), but for some reason I’d lose all my inhibitions at Chinese restaurants.

Fried Udon-Wrapped Shrimp

I’m not saying that there were any Vietnam era Chinese restaurants in Salt Lake City, Utah that served Fried Udon-Wrapped Shrimp. No, these places were more likely to serve Moo Goo Gai Pan, sweet and sour pork or a style of fried rice that looked more like an omelette than any sort of grain. There was also hot tea served in tiny little cups from a tiny little teapot of my own. Either my parents had no idea what caffeine did to kids, or they just didn’t care– but I was never more animated than I was when I had to decide between Family Style Dinner #1 and Family Style Dinner #2.

I’m not saying that my parents didn’t do their best with we three kids in those days. But you have to remember my parents were practically babies themselves; they had a lot of growing up to do. My mother’s interest in French cooking was still a few years in the future. The “fancy” restaurants that my parents would soon favor (and finally be able to afford) were just a part of their fantasy life in those days. If stale-crispy-noodles and fried shrimp would keep their three kids occupied for 2 whole hours on the one night a week they (almost) had alone together, then those three kids got all the stale-crispy-noodles and fried shrimp my parents could afford.

Things changed for my family. I like to say Julia Child moved in. There was a big house and a modern kitchen. There was French food unlike anything the other kids were eating. But as the oldest of the three kids in my family, I was the only one who remembered the stale-crispy-noodles and fried shrimp from our Family Style Dinners #2.

Fried Udon-Wrapped Shrimp is my modern day reinterpretation of those childhood favorites. It may not take the place of those Chinese dinners where an 8 year old me could fawn over his movie star mom while singing the songs he’d be too shy to sing at school– but I promise you these shrimp are delicious and remind me of Family Style Dinners. GREGudon-wrapped shrimp

Fried Udon-Wrapped Shrimp 

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fried udon wrapped shrimp


  • ½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon seasme oil
  • 1 Thai bird chili pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 6 small Persian cucumbers (about 18 to 20 ounces total)
  • 3 scallions (thinly sliced on a diagonal)
  • salt and pepper (as needed for seasoning)
  • 1 tablespoon bonito flakes (optional)
  • 6 ounce chow mein style udon noodles (or other thin noodle such as angel hair pasta)
  • 16 large shrimps (peeled and deveined with tails intact)
  • peanut, canola or vegetable oil (as needed for frying depending on the size of your vessel)


Prepare the dipping sauce: Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, and as many slices of the chili pepper as you like to a lidded jar; shake well to combine. Shake again just before serving.

Prepare the cucumber salad: Halve the cucumbers lengthwise and cut crosswise into ½‑inch half moons. Add the cucumbers and scallions to a bowl, along with ½ cup of the prepared dipping sauce; season with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper and toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the bonito flakes just before serving (if using).

Prepare the shrimp: Cook the udon according to package instructions. Drain well.

While the udon is still warm straighten out a forkful, then roll this udon (about 12 noodles) around each of the shrimp. Set them aside to cool. The starch will “glue” the noodles in place.

Meanwhile place about 3‑inches of oil into a large deep pot. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F. Working with 2 or 3 udon-wrapped shrimp at a time deep fry them until the shrimps are cooked and the udon browned, about one and a half minutes (maybe two). Roll them in the oil with a long-handled heat-proof slotted spoon to assure they brown evenly. Remove them from oil as they finish cooking and place on rack to drain. Continue cooking the remaining udon-wrapped shrimp.

To serve: Spread the cucumber salad onto a serving plate, topping it with warm udon-wrapped shrimp. Serve remaining dipping sauce on the side.