Sep 12

Yakisoba Comfort

in Japanese, Main Course, Rice & Noodles

Yakisoba. Although Chinese in origin, the Japanese have made this noodle dish all their own. Yakisoba can usually be found at food booths at matsuri (festivals), conbini (convenience stores), home cooked meals, etc. Unlike the name might lead you to believe, yakisoba is not made using soba noodles (made with buckwheat flour), but noodles that are more like ramen noodles (made with wheat flour).
“Yaki” means “fried” in Japanese and “soba” indicates “noodles”. It is made by stir-frying noodles (thus the name!) with thinly sliced pork and vegetables and flavored with a sweet and savoury sauce, then topped with a variety of garnishes, the most typical being aonori (dried green seaweed flakes), beni shoga (pickled ginger cut into thin strips), katsuobushi (paper thin shavings of dried and smoked bonito), and Japanese mayonnaise.

To me, yakisoba is Japanese comfort food. It was just that type of comfort that I was craving the other day, but I didn’t have some of the crucial ingredients on hand and I didn’t have time to drive to the nearest Asian market (about 30 minutes away) to pick them up. I couldn’t stand the thought of waiting until I had time to make that drive (remember I’m expecting = crazy strong cravings) so I decided to see how well I could do using my local grocery store as a source.

We have several different grocery chains within a few miles of our house and I’ve already learned in the past few weeks that our Von’s has the best foreign foods section, so although they tend to be a bit more expensive than some of our other options, I headed there first. I was happily rewarded with almost everything I needed (you can do it too!) and returned home to cook and satisfy my craving. The only ingredients I wasn’t able to find were the condiments (but no big deal, these are flexible!). I improvised the beni shoga with pickled ginger (usually seen served with your sushi) that I sliced into thin pieces.
I had some furikake already in my cupboard that I used in place of the aonori. I did actually have some katsuobushi that I was able to pull out of the cupboard. For the mayonnaise I just added a bit of water to my regular American version in the fridge to make it easier to squeeze on as a condiment (not as good, but still yummy!).

I made a double batch of noodles so I could make the noodles once using a bottle of store bought sauce and then again a couple of days later with a homemade sauce. The batch made with homemade sauce was more flavorful, but the bottled sauce was yummy too!

approximately 4 servings

6 oz. chukamen (chuka soba) noodles, fresh or pre-cooked (as directed by instructions on package)
1/2 lb. boneless pork rib, thinly sliced
1/2 c. peeled and thinly sliced carrots
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 head of cabbage, chopped
1 cup moyashi (bean sprouts)
1 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 bottle yakisoba sauce/tonkatsu sauce (Kikkoman makes a pretty good one), sauce that comes with yakisoba kit, or 1 recipe of yakisoba sauce (see below)

1. Heat vegetable oil in large skillet/wok on medium heat. Stir-fry vegetables (except bean sprouts) until tender. Set aside.

2. Stir-fry pork in frying skillet/wok until cooked through (but don’t overcook!). Set aside with the vegetables.

3. Now put the noodles in the skillet/wok, pour 1/2 cup of water over the noodles, and cover the skillet. Turn down the heat to low and steam for 2-3 minutes.

4. Remove the lid and stir the noodles.

5. Add the vegetables and pork back into the frying pan and mix well. Add bean sprouts and sauce. Stir quickly to mix.

6. Serve with beni shoga, aonori, katsuobushi, mayonnaise, and/or any other condiments of your choice.

Homemade Yakisoba Sauce (there may be better recipes out there, this just happens to be the one I tried as it fit the ingredients I had immediate access to!)

1/3 c. ketchup
2 tsp. oyster sauce
4 tsp. soy sauce
4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 tsp. sugar
4 tsp. seasoned rice wine vinegar
4 tsp. yellow mustard
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1. Mix ingredients in a medium bowl/jar until well blended.

2. Let stand for 30 minutes before using to let the flavors develop.

** Can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

**You might be able to find packages of yakisoba kits at your grocery store as well. Usually those kits include small packages of seasoning powder, so you don’t need yakisoba sauce. Since making this yakisoba I saw a yakisoba kit available in an area by the fresh produce (by the packaged salad kits) in my local Stater Bros.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

LollyChops September 12, 2008 at 5:41 pm

Hey thanks for the nice comments on my blog today! I decided to make that necklace my Friday Giveaway (it was a tough decision)! You look like a killer cook.. if you ever want to guest blog a recipe for me let me know!

Thanks again for stopping by. Hope to see you again soon!


kamewh September 12, 2008 at 5:44 pm

I just made the cream cheese roll-up recipe that you posted on the Musings of a Housewife giveaway and they were delcious!! Thank you for sharing!


K and S September 12, 2008 at 7:16 pm

yummy…yakisoba is one of my comfort foods too, I like it more on the dry side though.


Denise September 13, 2008 at 10:35 am

I had Stater Bros. Yakisoba for lunch just the other day. It was very yummy to me, but *I* am not a gourmet! (I also didn’t go through the effort of adding vegies, but I should have, looks great.)


Jackie September 13, 2008 at 7:20 pm

I have always loved yakisoba and this post inspired us to pick some up last night but now I really want to try your recipe. Looks way better than my own!
Oh and we tried your Thai soup the other day – wow the memories of Thailand with the Fujis! Yum!


Bentoist September 13, 2008 at 11:23 pm

Yuuuummm… I have to try this as a bento dish sometime. I’m craving some asian noodles lately. =)


Fuji Mama September 14, 2008 at 12:21 am

bentoist–Yakisoba makes a great bento dish!


dreamjuggalette September 15, 2008 at 8:45 am

I’m sorry that you had to move bac to the US. I enjoy learning about Japanese culture through your blog. It is just as interesting now that you are showing how you mix Japanese and American culture together now that you are back in the US. Also it’s really helpful how you explain how to get Japanese products here. I’m going to keep reading your blog just for that and maybe sometime in the future you will be able to move back to Japan. ^_^


Angela January 25, 2010 at 10:14 am

I made the yakisoba this weekend using the homemade yakisoba sauce because we live in the country and lets just say I can’t find the Kikkoman on here. It was good but not like the traditional yakisoba I’ve eaten before. I guess I’m a yakisoba snob after living in Hawaii for a couple of years and eating it weekly. I did make the Creamy Crockpot Porky Chops and the kalua pig and they were both fantastic. I’m going to be making the cornish pasties next and can’t wait to try them.


Fuji Mama (Rachael) January 25, 2010 at 11:48 am

Angela– I hear ya! I’m still trying to find a yakisoba recipe that I’m happy with. I agree, this one is good, but not perfect. After having lived in Japan several times and being spoiled by the awesome yakisoba there, I would also call myself a yakisoba snob. :) So glad to hear you like the Creamy Crockpot Porky Chops and the kalua pig!


Jersey Jim February 2, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Hey Rachael – the recipe looks great, and I’ll try it this weekend with the family. Fortunately, there’s a good Jpanaese market on East 47th near my office that stocks a number of yakisoba sauces. Just one question – How much water goes into the skillet with the noodles? Is it just a couple/few TBS to help with the steaming, or a hefty amount to build a bit of a broth? Your photo shows a more hearty meal with a broth that I’m not used to seeing in the take out I get.




Fuji Mama (Rachael) February 4, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Jersey Jim– Use up to 1/2 cup of water. If you like your noodles to be a bit drier, you can use less water, but then just watch to make sure they don’t start to stick to the bottom of your pan! If you just want to steam them, use less. If you want wetter noodles use the full 1/2 cup. Yes, this version of yakisoba is a bit heartier than some–when I made it, I definitely made it to be a full on main dish!


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