Saucy, noodle-y and full of umami, yakisoba is a hearty, all-in-one dish that is absolutely delicious.
In Japan, when you go to a festival, whether it’s in spring, summer, autumn or winter, there will inevitably be a yakisoba booth. Neat little piles of yakisoba will be waiting on a giant rack to be scooped into containers and delivered to you with a pair of wooden chopsticks. For me, no Japanese festival is complete without sipping on steaming, delicious, umami-filled yakisoba. I miss living in Japan so much it hurts. When it gets too much, I whip up a batch of yakisoba and Mike and I sit on our balcony and eat yakisoba in the fresh air and reminisce.
What is yakisoba?
Yakisoba, literally “fried noodles” in Japanese, is a classic stir-fried noodle dish that is one of Japan’s best-known noodle dishes, along with ramen, soba, and udon. It is a much loved street food, both homemade and served in restaurants. If you love fried noodle dishes, you’ll love the yakisoba.
Contrary to the name, yakisoba is not actually made from soba. Yakisoba is a Japanese take on Chinese noodles and is typically made with pre-cooked wheat noodles that you can find at the grocery store. They are labeled “yakisoba noodles” at the shop.
Yakisoba is extremely easy to make and you can add any ingredients you like. The classic is pork and cabbage, but if you’re skipping the meat, you can easily substitute more veggies or add tofu as a protein. It’s the perfect quick meal and great for dinner and meal prep!
How to make yakisoba
- Prepare the sauce. Mix together Japanese Worcester sauce, oyster sauce, ketchup, soy sauce and some sugar.
- Prepare. Chop all the vegetables and slice the proteins into small pieces. Loosen the noodles.
- Cooked. Heat some oil and cook the proteins and vegetables.
- Throw. Add the noodles and sauce and stir until the sauce coats all the noodles and everything is glossy.
- Enjoy. Top with seaweed and ginger and enjoy hot!
What kind of noodles do you use for yakisoba?
In English soba always means buckwheat noodles, but the noodles used for yakisoba aren’t buckwheat at all, they’re actually mushi chukamen, which means Chinese-style steamed noodles (“mushi” means steamed, “chuka” means Chinese and “men” means noodles). They’re very similar to ramen noodles because they’re made with water, flour, and kansui, an ingredient that helps with the texture and color of the noodles. When you buy yakisoba noodles at the store, they come pre-steamed, then you heat them quickly in sauce.
What brand of yakisoba noodles?
There are two popular brands of yakisoba noodles: Myojo and Maruchan. They are steamed, coated in oil and packaged in individual portions. You can find them in the refrigerated section of most Asian grocery stores. If you can’t find yakisoba noodles, you can also use fresh ramen, dried instant ramen packets without seasoning, or chow mein noodles. They all work great!
My favorite yakisoba noodles
I like to use Chinese steamed noodles for yakisoba. Packs of yakisoba noodles from Japan are super affordable but the noodles tend to break. Since yakisoba is a version of Chinese noodles, I prefer to use cooked Chinese noodles or lo mein noodles. Essentially they are mushi chukamen, steamed Chinese noodles. You can find them in the refrigerated section of Asian grocery stores, usually labeled “cooked noodles,” “oil noodles,” or “lo mein noodles.”
Yakisoba sauce is made from Japanese Worcester sauce, oyster sauce, ketchup, soy sauce and some sugar. I usually just mix it at home, but they also sell yakisoba sauce, in a convenient squeeze bottle. You can find it online or in Asian grocery stores.
Japanese Worcestershire sauce
Japanese Worcestershire Sauce is almost like Lea and Perrins’ Worcestershire Sauce, but done completely differently. Typically called “sosu” (ソース), Japanese Worcestershire is a sweet, salty, and spicy sauce made from fruits, vegetables, sugar, and spices. It tastes very different from Worcestershire sauce. You can buy Japanese Worcestershire sauce online or in Asian grocery stores. The most popular sosu maker in Japan is Bull-Dog and they make 3 main types of sosu, which differ mainly in thickness. For yakisoba we need thin, o consumed willow.
Since yakisoba is a Japanese version of a Chinese dish, they use oyster sauce as a condiment. Oyster sauce is a classic Chinese sauce that is thick and flavorful with a hint of caramel sweetness and umami. You can buy it online or the Asian grocery store. Adds extra flair to your yakisoba.
Thinly sliced pork belly is the Japanese meat of choice, but you can also use thinly sliced beef, cubed chicken, or firm tofu. They sell thinly sliced pork belly in the frozen section at Asian grocery stores, but if you’re looking for a handy substitute, you can use chopped up pork or even bacon if you like it a little smokier.
Cabbage is classic, along with onions and carrots, but you can really go wild and use any greens. The mushrooms are amazing and the shredded cabbage is amazing. Just be sure to cut the vegetables into small pieces.
After your spaghetti is hot and crispy, it’s time to serve it and add the toppings!
- Alone – tiny flakes of dried and pulverized seaweed that add saltiness and umami. You can buy it online or use seaweed crumble snack if you have it.
- goods shoga – cute red strips of pickled ginger that add a sour and vinegary bite and counteract the richness of the noodles. You can find it in the refrigerated section of Asian grocery stores. Sometimes you may find this called kizami shoga.
- katsuobushi/bonito flakes – add an extra touch of umami with these dried fish flakes, available online.
- Kewpie mayonnaise – a little squiggle of Kewpie mayonnaise on top is great, give it a try!
- fried egg – everything is buttery with a sunny side up egg.
- toasted sesame seeds – sesame seeds add some crunch and nuttiness.
How to serve
Yakisoba is typically served as a main course or side dish. You can serve it alongside loads of other dishes, like gyoza, karaage chicken, and takoyaki for a fun Japanese feast.
Tips and tricks
- Prepare everything in advance. Prepare the sauce, loosen the noodles, slice the meat and prepare the vegetables. Most of the work is preparation, the actual cooking proceeds very quickly.
- Loosen the noodles before adding them to the pan. Many packaged noodles compress when you take them out of the package. If you add them directly to the pan, you’ll end up breaking them during cooking. Instead, loosen the noodles in warm water and use your hands to gently separate the strands. Make sure you drain the noodles well.
That’s all! Now you can eat with the best festival yakisoba makers in Japan. Bring a little Japan home and take away the noodles!
- 2 table spoon Japanese Worcestershire sauce
- 1 table spoon oyster sauce
- 1 table spoon Ketchup
- 1/2 table spoon I am willow Favorite Japanese
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 table spoon neutral oil
- 3/4 lb bacon finely slicedor other protein of choice
- 1/2 medium onion sliced
- 1 medium carrot julienne
- 4 leaves cabbage chopped
- 1 lb cooked yakisoba noodles looseor lo mein
- 2 stems green onions sliced
- Alone optional
- me shoga/pickled ginger optional
In a small bowl, mix together the Japanese Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Shelve.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork to the pan and cook, turning if necessary until browned and cooked through.
Add the onions, carrots and cabbage. Cook, stirring, until soft but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
Turn the heat to medium and add the loose noodles to the pan along with the sauce. Stir until everything is hot and coated with sauce and glossy. Stir in the green onions.
Serve topped with aonori and beni shoga. Enjoy!
Quantity per serving
Calories from Fat 458