Yakisoba is stir-fried egg noodles with roots in Chinese Chow Mien, although it has evolved on its own path over a long time. Japanese Yakisoba is better known to be seasoned with a Worcestershire Sauce-like Yakisoba sauce. However, there is another popular kind: Shio Yakisoba. “Shio” means salt in Japanese, and salt is of course used in Shio Yakisoba along with other seasonings, but the name “Shio Yakisoba” is used to differentiate from “sauce” Yakisoba. Shio Yakisoba is less rich and strong flavored compared to the other kind, but it is quite tasty and possibly more habit forming for its simpler taste.
Having lived in Kansai areas where Okonomiyaki is famous (which uses a sauce similar to Yakisoba sauce), Yakisoba with sauce is a more typical and familiar kind – or even the only kind – for us. But, there are a lot of different versions of Yakisoba and Shio Yakisoba all over Japan. Many regions have created their own Shio Yakisoba using local seafood and vegetables, but it seems like the dish is gaining more attention nationally in the last decade or so. When you make it at home, because there are so many varieties, there is no right or wrong for what ingredients to use. We wanted it to be very simple here and used only a few things – pork, bean sprouts, and green onions. If you like more vegetables, however, go ahead as you wish! Just adjust the amount of salt and other seasonings because more ingredients means diluting the taste.
Chuka Men for Yakisoba is usually sold as packages of fresh noodles in the refrigerated section at Japanese or some Asian markets. Each package of noodles (often one square) is for one serving, and sometimes comes with Yakisoba seasoning powder. The seasoning powder is a convenient thing and doesn’t taste bad, I admit, so you may opt to use that as your Yakisoba sauce. For people who do not have access to any Asian markets at all, dried spaghetti can be used instead of Chuka Men. Similar to what we did in Ramen, boil dried spaghetti in boiling water (2L) with baking soda (2Tbsp), and cook according to the package. You may not want to use fresh pasta because it may be too soft to stir fry after boiling. We know it is not exactly the same as Chuka Men, but it can be a pretty good substitution for those who cannot get Chuka Men. Get all the ingredients ready, fry them together, and enjoy your own Yakisoba! (When you are using spaghetti or other kind of fresh noodles which doesn’t require water to loosen while cooking, omit water in the recipe.)
(Also, we recommend using a non-stick pan to make Yakisoba to avoid noodles getting stuck on the pan.)
- 1/3 lb (150g) pork, sliced thinly
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 3 green onions
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 1/2 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 package (or 2 servings) Chuka Men noodles
- 1/4 cup (80ml) water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp sake
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Cut sliced pork into bite size pieces. Wash sprouts and drain well. Slice green onions diagonally. Set aside.
- In a wok or frying-pan, heat oil at medium high heat. Add garlic and pork and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add sprouts and stir. Then add noodles and water in the pan, cover, and cook for 30 seconds. Loosen the noodles and stir. Season with salt, pepper, Soy Sauce, Sake. Add sliced green onions and Sesame Oil in the end and stir-fry for a few seconds.