Farmers on noodle mission

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Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
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The first ripples of an udon noodle- eating revolution have started in WA.

Last week, 2015 Rural Woman of the Year Tress Walmsley started a plan that should lead to more WA-grown udon noodles being consumed in the State.

Mrs Walmsley was named Rural Woman of the Year for her project which involved starting a noodle eating revolution in WA.

In winning the 2015 title, she received a $10,000 bursary from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation towards the project.

Mrs Walmsley is also chief executive of InterGrain, which is focussed on breeding new grain varieties.

But her Rural Woman project is a personal quest, aimed at increasing local demand.

She hosted a day for five udon noodle champions to learn more about the wheat they grow and recipes to promote their end use.

The champions included Toodyay's Lyn Sommers, Bolgart's Steph Clarke, Meckering's Fiona Arnold, Three Springs' Josh Winen and Bruce Rock's Darren Kilminster. They learnt how noodles were made from WA-grown wheat, and also some delicious recipes thanks to the expertise of chef Dale Sniffen, who hosted the cooking class.

As udon noodle ambassadors, they must spread the word by hosting a community udon party in their area.

Mrs Walmsley is hoping as the word catches on, more people will try cooking with udon noodles.

Armed with the two tasty recipes for teriyaki chicken and kale udon soup, and stir-fry udon noodles with rump steak and vegetables, the noodle champions were already planning ahead.

Mrs Sommers and Mrs Clarke may join forces to host a bigger dinner party in their patch of the Wheatbelt.

Mr Winen plans to use the barbecue hotplate rather than the wok, as suggested by the chef.

He said top of his guest list would be other farmers from around his area that grow the noodle wheat.

And Mr Kilminster plans to raid his own vegetable patch when he hosts an udon cooking event at Bruce Rock.

Mr Sniffen said WA people had not really caught on to udon noodles , but expected they would become more popular in years ahead as locals discovered how versatile, fresh and tasty they were.

The event involved a morning tour for the growers of InterGrain's Bibra Lake site and greenhouses.

InterGrain wheat breeder Dan Mullan spoke of the 13 years of breeding and research that went into last year's release of the new noodle wheat varieties Supreme and Zen, with available quantities selling out in the first season as growers clamoured to bulk up seed supplies.

AEGIC wheat quality technical markets manager Larisa Cato said wheat from WA was regarded as the best for making udon noodles.

"WA growers should take pride in this fact by the quality-conscious Japanese consumers," she said.

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