Creamy Lemon Jalapeño Noodles

published May 25, 2024
Creamy Lemon Jalapeño Noodles Recipe

These udon noodles are tossed with a zesty, spicy, and creamy sauce for the ultimate savory dish.

Serves2

Prep15 minutes

Cook10 minutes

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Lemon jalapeno udon noodles being picked up from a bowl with chopsticks.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: James Park

One of my favorite condiments to cook with is yuzu kosho. This beloved Japanese condiment, which has a paste-like consistency, has two main ingredients: spicy fresh chiles (typically green) and yuzu, a sweet-tart citrus fruit. It’s a great way to add zesty, spicy flavors to just about any dish (like my ginger chicken soup).

Inspired by the flavors and textures of yuzu kosho, I wanted to create something similar with ingredients that are easier to find: lemons and jalapeño peppers. And with a little bit of patience and lots of chopping, this lemony jalapeño paste has all the right notes and textures that remind me of yuzu kosho. Here, it makes the perfect base for delicious, slurpable udon noodles.

Why You’ll Love It

  • These lemon jalapeño noodles are pleasantly spicy, zesty, and wonderfully creamy. Even better, they come together in less than 30 minutes.
  • The tangy taste of Kewpie mayo makes the noodles creamy, without making them feel overly heavy and rich. 
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: James Park

Key Ingredients in Creamy Lemon Jalapeño Noodles

  • Udon noodles. Whether you are using fresh or frozen udon noodles, it’s important to keep them loose and partially cooked by keeping them in hot water. Hot water will soften the noodles without overcooking them, and when you add the noodles to the pan with the sauce, the noodles will easily absorb the sauce.
  • Lemons. The recipe uses both zest and lemon juice to add its bright, tart taste to the noodles. The lemon zest brings the essence and aroma of lemon, while the juice brings the acidity of lemon juice for the sauce.
  • Jalapeño peppers. Add as much or little as you want. You can exclude the seeds if you want the sauce to be less spicy. 
  • Garlic. Another key element of making the noodles is to make a garlic-infused oil. This flavorful oil coats the noodles before being tossed with the sauce, which takes the dish to the next level.
  • Kewpie mayo. This is the secret ingredient that makes the noodles creamy without being too rich. Kewpie mayo’s unique, tangy flavor pairs wonderfully with zesty, spicy sauce.
  • Furikake. Even though this is a final garnish, it makes a big difference at the end. Be sure to use seaweed-based furikake, or use this homemade version

Helpful Swaps

  • You can swap jalapeño peppers with serrano peppers if you want more spice.
  • You can use other fresh noodles, like Korean knife-cut noodles, somen noodles, or even spaghetti, instead of udon noodles.
  • You can substitute light brown sugar with regular granulated sugar. 

Creamy Lemon Jalapeño Noodles Recipe

These udon noodles are tossed with a zesty, spicy, and creamy sauce for the ultimate savory dish.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes

Serves 2

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 18 to 24 ounces

    fresh or frozen udon noodles, such as Sanukiya or Kame

  • 3 to 4

    medium lemons

  • 1

    medium jalapeño pepper

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 3 tablespoons

    packed light brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1 tablespoon

    soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons

    Kewpie mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons

    furikake seasoning, divided

Instructions

  1. Place 18 to 24 ounces fresh or frozen udon noodles in a medium bowl (discard any seasoning packets). Pour enough hot tap water over the noodles to cover. Let sit while you prepare the remaining ingredients so the noodles can loosen up.

  2. Finely grate the zest from 3 to 4 medium lemons until you have about 2 heaping tablespoons. Juice the zested lemons until you have 1/4 cup and place in a medium bowl. Cut 4 wedges from the zested lemons and reserve for serving; save any remaining zested lemons for another use.

  3. Finely chop 1 medium jalapeño pepper (about 1/4 cup). Sprinkle the lemon zest onto the jalapeño and finely chop them together to combine. Transfer to the bowl with the lemon juice. Thinly slice 2 garlic cloves.

  4. Add 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to the jalapeño mixture and whisk until combined.

  5. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until shimmering. Meanwhile, drain the udon.

  6. Add the garlic to the skillet and cook until light golden-brown and fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the udon and stir until coated in the oil, about 30 seconds. Add the lemon-jalapeño sauce and cook until the noodles absorb most of the sauce, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons Kewpie mayonnaise and toss with tongs or chopsticks until the sauce coats the noodles and thickens slightly, 1 to 2 minutes.

  7. Divide the noodles between 2 serving bowls. Garnish each bowl with 1 tablespoon furikake seasoning and serve with the reserved lemon wedges.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The lemon jalapeño sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.