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Gather all the ingredients.
In a medium pot or bowl, add 2.5 cups water, kombu, and dried shiitake mushrooms. Steep for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Trim off the eggplant ends and cut into roughly 2-inch wedges with skin-on. The skin will hold the shape together. Without the skin, the flesh will become too soft.
As soon as you cut the eggplant, soak them in water to remove astringency. Set aside for 10-15 minutes and dry them with a paper towel.
Sprinkle potato starch (cornstarch) and coat the eggplant nicely.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat (or medium heat on a professional stove). Start frying the eggplant. Do not touch too often. Only flip them when the bottom sides are nicely brown. If they stick to the pan, be patient and wait till the eggplant slice release itself from the bottom when they form a nice crust (but be sure that pan is greased).
If you feel that the oil is not enough, then add more. Make sure to adjust the heat so it doesn’t take a long time to brown the eggplant. You don’t want overcooked and mushy eggplant.
When the eggplant is golden brown, reduce the heat to medium and season the eggplant with mirin and soy sauce.
The potato starch (or cornstarch) will thicken the sauce quickly, so flip around to coat the eggplant with the sauce. Then transfer to a plate.
Cut the fried firm tofu into thin slices.
Cut the bok choy in half lengthwise.
Remove the stems of shiitake mushrooms and slice the caps thinly.
Then mince the slices.
Squeeze the liquid out from the dried shiitake mushrooms (keep that liquid) and remove the stems.
Cut the mushroom caps into thin slices and then mince them.
Cut the dried shiitake mushrooms into the same size as fresh shiitake mushrooms.
In a small saucepan, add both mushrooms, sugar, and soy sauce.
Add water and bring it to a simmer. Continue adding water so the bottom of the pot has some liquid.
Simmer until shiitake mushrooms are tender and absorb the flavors.
Transfer the kombu and shiitake dashi broth (including hydrated kombu) to the saucepan and bring it to a simmer.
Right before boiling, remove the kombu. With a fine-mesh simmer, skim off the foam and scum floating on the surface of the broth.
Add 1 Tbsp mirin, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 Tbsp soy sauce.
Add ¼ tsp salt and fried tofu. Turn off the heat and cover (so it won’t evaporate).
In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the bok choy just until it turns bright green and tender, about 2 to 2.5 minutes, and transfer to a plate. I undercook slightly and so the remaining heat will continue to cook a bit more. For this recipe, I didn't "blanch and shock" for retaining the vegetable color and crunch as I usually do since I wanted to keep the bok choy warm.
Cook or reheat udon noodles according to the package instructions.
Drain udon noodles well and serve them in individual bowls. Divide and serve fried firm tofu and soup broth.
Top the noodles with blanched bok choy, minced mushrooms, and fried eggplant. Serve immediately with shichimi togarashi on the side for a spicy kick.