Spicy Yakisoba

Yakisoba

As much as I struggled with my Asian identity growing up, I have very fond memories of visiting Japan as a kid. One of my favourite activities was going to summer festivals, or Matsuri, which always had rows of brightly colored stalls with games for kids, and even more stalls hawking food. It’s hard to say what my favourite stall food was, but I’ve always loved the sweet spicy aroma of yakisoba sizzling on a flat metal griddle. I vividly remember those lantern lit stalls that were often manned by burly buzz cut men, sporting hachimakis around their heads to catch the sweat dripping from their brow as they furiously stir fried the noodles with 2 metal spatulas.

Yakisoba means “fried noodles” and is commonly found all over Japan at festivals, sporting events, and shops that specialize in okonomiyaki (a type of Japanese pancake). Despite having “soba” in the name, yakisoba is actually made with thin Chinese egg noodles, not buckwheat soba. My hunch is that this is the Japanese descendant of the ubiquitous Chinese dish, chow mein.

Yakisoba

It’s very simple to make and is a great way to use up odds and ends in your refrigerator. By adding your choice of meat, seafood and veggies, you can customize it to your tastes as well as what you have available. The sweet, tangy tonkatsu sauce imbues the noodles with a deep mahogany color and gives the dish its unique caramelized flavour.

I made this as part of my meal for the Korea v. Japan WBC championship game, so I wanted to give this dish a Korean kick. Some garlic and gochujang, really took this to a new place, adding more depth and plenty of heat, but if you’re looking for the authentic Japanese classic, omit these two ingredients.

Once the noodles are done, they are topped with aonori, which are dried green seaweed flakes that are a bit different from the sheets of nori used for wrapping sushi. For added color and a briny zing, benishoga (red pickled ginger) is usually added to top the pile of noodles off.

2 Tbs oil
1/4 lb thinly sliced meat or seafood such as shrimp, squid or octopus
1 C roughly chopped cabbage
1 C bean spouts
1/2 C yellow onion sliced
1/4 C shredded carrot
10 ounces cooked thin Asian egg noodles
2 scallions sliced thin on the bias
1 clove garlic minced
3 Tbs tonkatsu sauce (Worcestershire sauce will do in a pinch)
1 Tbs gochujang
white pepper

aonori (green nori flakes) optional
benishoga (red pickled ginger) optional

If you are using meat or seafood, sprinkle with salt and pepper then heat 1 Tbs of oil in a pan or wok and fry until just barely cooked. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Saute the cabbage, bean sprouts, onions, and carrot until they are mostly tender. Add the noodles, scallions and garlic, then cover with the remaining oil (1 Tbs). If the noodles have clumped together, add a few tablespoons of water to the pan to help separate them. Stir fry the noodles until they are completely separated and there is no water remaining. Add the meat/seafood back into the pan along with the tonkatsu sauce, gochujang and white pepper and stir fry until the sauce is evenly coated around the noodles.

To serve, plate the noodles and top with with a sprinkle of aonori flakes and benishoga.

  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com/ Heather

    Oh, nice! I love adding a little hint of one Asian cuisine to another. Since so much Asian cuisine was originally Chinese anyway, I guess this isn’t too strange.

    Hinamatsuri was a couple weeks ago, and I meant to celebrate/blog about it, but just never got around to it.

  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com Heather

    Oh, nice! I love adding a little hint of one Asian cuisine to another. Since so much Asian cuisine was originally Chinese anyway, I guess this isn’t too strange.

    Hinamatsuri was a couple weeks ago, and I meant to celebrate/blog about it, but just never got around to it.

  • http://www.veggiebelly.com/ veggiebelly

    this looks so delicious! love your description of the summer festival.

  • http://www.veggiebelly.com veggiebelly

    this looks so delicious! love your description of the summer festival.

  • http://helene-lacuisine.blogspot.com/ Hélène

    I admire your work and the beautiful pictures on your blog.

  • http://helene-lacuisine.blogspot.com/ Hélène

    I admire your work and the beautiful pictures on your blog.

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com/ Peter G

    This is one of my absolute favourite dishes Marc…thank you so much for showcasing this dish, especially the correct sauces used to make the yakisoba…I’m drooling!

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com Peter G

    This is one of my absolute favourite dishes Marc…thank you so much for showcasing this dish, especially the correct sauces used to make the yakisoba…I’m drooling!

  • http://www.danatreat.blogspot.com/ Dana

    I love this dish but it is always so oily when I order it out. I will try making it at home so I can control that. Thank you!

  • http://www.danatreat.blogspot.com Dana

    I love this dish but it is always so oily when I order it out. I will try making it at home so I can control that. Thank you!

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com/ katiek from kitchensidecar

    Wow. I love yaki udon. Interestignly enough, I discovered while in beijing china, which may give more validity to your claims that it is no more than a glorified chow mein w tonkatsu sauce.

    I make yaki udon when we have massive house parties and all wake up, hungover as hell, to clean. Just a testament to the comfort food of it all.

    I have never had tonkatsu sauce, which makes mine yaki just refined lo mein. I am excited to buy some sauce and do it for realz. Thanks.

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com katiek from kitchensidecar

    Wow. I love yaki udon. Interestignly enough, I discovered while in beijing china, which may give more validity to your claims that it is no more than a glorified chow mein w tonkatsu sauce.

    I make yaki udon when we have massive house parties and all wake up, hungover as hell, to clean. Just a testament to the comfort food of it all.

    I have never had tonkatsu sauce, which makes mine yaki just refined lo mein. I am excited to buy some sauce and do it for realz. Thanks.

  • http://www.thedailyspud.com/ Daily Spud

    I guess there’d be no harm in using soba noodles for this, seeing as I just discovered that I had some lying around… Tonkatsu sauce is a new one though, I’ll have to see if I can find it here.

  • http://www.thedailyspud.com Daily Spud

    I guess there’d be no harm in using soba noodles for this, seeing as I just discovered that I had some lying around… Tonkatsu sauce is a new one though, I’ll have to see if I can find it here.

  • http://chefholly.typepad.com/ Holly

    Yakisoba is a very popular dish here I usually top mine with sansho. They even serve it in school lunches.

  • http://chefholly.typepad.com/ Holly

    Yakisoba is a very popular dish here I usually top mine with sansho. They even serve it in school lunches.

  • http://www.whatdoiwant2cooktoday.blogspot.com/ Jan

    I really love the look of this dish and want to make it badly but I can not get gochujang to save my life! I want it for a number of recipes I’ve seen lately.
    I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to get tonkatsu sauce either but I see you say it can be substituted with Worcestershire sauce.
    This dish of yours looks sooooo good!

  • http://www.whatdoiwant2cooktoday.blogspot.com Jan

    I really love the look of this dish and want to make it badly but I can not get gochujang to save my life! I want it for a number of recipes I’ve seen lately.
    I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to get tonkatsu sauce either but I see you say it can be substituted with Worcestershire sauce.
    This dish of yours looks sooooo good!

  • http://www.marisabaggett.com/ Marisa

    The photo of this is making me very hungry! I like a poached egg on my yakisoba with a dash of togarashi. Since I first tried it that way, I’ve been hooked on noodles for breakfast. Of course, all of my friends think I’m a little strange, but with an egg on top that makes it somewhat breakfast-y, huh?

  • http://www.marisabaggett.com Marisa

    The photo of this is making me very hungry! I like a poached egg on my yakisoba with a dash of togarashi. Since I first tried it that way, I’ve been hooked on noodles for breakfast. Of course, all of my friends think I’m a little strange, but with an egg on top that makes it somewhat breakfast-y, huh?

  • http://www.rasamalaysia.com/ Rasa Malaysia

    One of these days, I am going to make yakisoba. Spicy is great. :)

  • http://www.rasamalaysia.com Rasa Malaysia

    One of these days, I am going to make yakisoba. Spicy is great. :)

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Oh, hooray, another way to clear out the fridge, Asian style! I have never even heard of this, but I love it. We’re only cooking with brown rice these days, and it takes forever to cook, so often I will make noodles for a more instant gratification. Now,instead of just reheating or putting htem in a frittata, I can whip out this technique. See, *this* is why I come here:)

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com Jenni

    Oh, hooray, another way to clear out the fridge, Asian style! I have never even heard of this, but I love it. We’re only cooking with brown rice these days, and it takes forever to cook, so often I will make noodles for a more instant gratification. Now,instead of just reheating or putting htem in a frittata, I can whip out this technique. See, *this* is why I come here:)

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  • Jeff

    Super teriffic. Works great with ordinary egg noodles.

    Thanks

  • Jeff

    Super teriffic. Works great with ordinary egg noodles.

    Thanks

  • http://www.deglazeme.blogspot.com/ Christina@DeglazeMe

    Hey Marc, I just made/blogged about this yakisoba. It is SO TASTY. I had tons of leftovers and happily ate it at virtually every meal for days. I also added a fried egg on top a few times (which I know is totally unconventional), but the runny yolk was so yummy with the noodles. Thank you for being an inspiration!

  • http://www.deglazeme.blogspot.com Christina@DeglazeMe

    Hey Marc, I just made/blogged about this yakisoba. It is SO TASTY. I had tons of leftovers and happily ate it at virtually every meal for days. I also added a fried egg on top a few times (which I know is totally unconventional), but the runny yolk was so yummy with the noodles. Thank you for being an inspiration!

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  • http://c1tr4sinau.blogspot.com/ Indonesian in Turkey

    hmmmm…drooollliinnggg… :p
    It’s look like Indonesian fried noodle .. I looovvee Japanese food.. in this one… [sigh] … scrumptious !

  • Ami

    Thank you very much for posting this recipe. I tried making this earlier and it was delicious! Thanks again.

  • Allison Schiltz

    I found katsu and tonkatsu at my asian market.  Is there a difference?
     

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Allison, Tonkatsu is a two part word which splits up to:

      “ton”=pork
      “katsu”=cutlet

      Together they refer to a dish were a pork cutlet is breaded with panko and deep fried. However if the meat was raw, they may just be saying the meat was meant for making tonkatsu.

      As for the one labeled “katsu” I’m not really sure why they would label it like that as it should be proceeded by the type of meet “chickenkatsu” “gyukatsu”(beefkatsu) etc.

      • Allison Schiltz

         Thanks!

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  • http://lokness.wordpress.com/ Lokness @ The Missing Lokness

    Any suggestion on noodle brand? I had some really good yakisoba in a Japanese restaurant. The noodles were al dente. When I was trying to make it at home, my noodles were very soggy. Thank you.

  • KeLe

    Kabamarou

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  • Dewi Wahyudi

    gochujang if in Indonesia can replace what?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Dewi, I’m not really familiar with the types of things you can buy in Indonesia, but gochujang is a sweet chili bean paste.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Dewi, I’m not really familiar with the types of things you can buy in Indonesia, but gochujang is a sweet chili bean paste.

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