Yakisoba is Japanese stir fried noodles. It is served with Yakisoba sauce, similar to Tonkatsu or Okonomiyaki sauce. Yakisoba is usually fried with sliced pork and vegetables like cabbage and bean sprouts. It is a very popular casual food (or snack) everyone likes in Japan. You can find Yakisoba at many places like Okonomiyaki restaurants, festivals, supermarket delis, and of course, home.
Yakisoba is a great light or quick meal. Kids stop at a little shop for Yakisoba after school, and people stop for it at a food court in a mall during shopping. One of the best Yakisoba can be found at summer night festivals. Street vendors cook Yakisoba on a big grill. I don’t know what they do to it, but they make superb Yakisoba. If you are making your own Yakisoba, you can put your favorite meat and vegetables; chicken, beef, or even squid. The must-have toppings are Aonori and Benishoga. The fragrance of Aonori and spicy Benishoga accentuate the flavor of Yakisoba so well. Even when your Yakisoba is mediocre, they can upgrade the dish for you.
We use Chuka Men, Chinese style noodles, in Yakisoba, but the dish is not Chinese at all. It is actually very Japanese, and nothing like Chow Mein other than they are both noodle dishes. Yakisoba sauce is very similar to Okonomiyaki sauce (you can even substitute Okonomiyaki sauce for Yakisoba sauce), though it is a little bit more like Worcester sauce and thinner. We made the Yakisoba sauce using Tonkatsu sauce and Worcester sauce which are in our pantry. You can of course purchase Yakisoba sauce if available, but this may be a good alternative.
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 (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!
(We recommend using a non-stick pan to make Yakisoba to avoid noodles getting stuck on the pan.)
- 1/3 lb (150g) pork, thinly sliced
- 1 small onion
- 2 C cabbage, cut into about 2" squares
- 2 C bean sprouts
- 1/2 small carrot
- 1/4 green bell pepper
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 2 packages Chuka Men (Chinese style noodles)
- salt and pepper
- 3 Tbsp Tonkatsu sauce
- 2 Tbsp Worcester sauce
- 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 Tbsp Mirin
- Cut sliced pork into bite size pieces. Prepare the vegetables: slice onion, carrot, and bell pepper thinly; cut cabbage into 2"squares; wash and strain bean sprouts. Mix all the ingredients for Yakisoba Sauce.
- In a large frying pan, add oil and heat at medium high heat. Cook meat first until browned. Add onion, carrot, and bell pepper and cook about 1-2 minutes. Then add cabbage and bean sprouts, and cook until vegetables are wilted. Once water seeps out from vegetables, add Chuka Men, stir under the vegetables, lower heat and cover, and cook about 2 minutes until noodles soften.
- When noodles get loose and soft, keep stirring to mix with vegetables, then add sauce and coat the whole thing for a couple of minutes. (Season with salt and pepper to taste.)
- Place Yakisoba on the plate; sprinkle with Aonori and put Benishoga on top.