Chicken Yakisoba

published Sep 10, 2021
Chicken Yakisoba Recipe

What sets this one-pot meal apart from most noodle dishes is its Japanese Worcestershire-like sauce.

Serves4

Prep25 minutes

Cook18 minutes

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Chicken Yakisoba (chicken with soba noodles) in a white bowl with chopsticks and sliced green onions on the side.
Credit: Meleyna Nomura

Yakisoba is a quick noodle stir-fry popular in Japan. While often seen at festivals and cooked on large flat-top griddles called teppan (similar to what you see at teppanyaki restaurants), it’s easy to make your own version of yakisoba at home. A little chopping, and dinner is done in a flash.

What Type of Noodles Should I Use for Yakisoba?

Yakisoba is influenced by Chinese cooking. The wheat noodles are very similar to fresh lo mein. Yakisoba noodles sold in stores are precooked. You don’t need to boil them before stir-frying, which makes this an easy one-pan meal!

Most large grocery stores carry fresh yakisoba noodles. They typically come in a one-pound package, divided into three portions and accompanied by dry seasoning packets. Look for them in the refrigerator case near the tofu. If you can’t find yakisoba noodles, any fresh Chinese-style wheat noodle will do. You can also use dried noodles — just look for words like “lo mein” or “chukka noodles.” If using dried noodles, you’ll need to cook them before stir-frying.

What Is Yakisoba Sauce Made Of?

The sauce used for yakisoba is what sets it apart from other stir-fried noodle dishes. While the style of noodles are borrowed from China, the sauce is a result of Western influence. Yakisoba sauce revolves around Japanese Worcestershire sauce. European-style Worcestershire sauce is thin, punchy, and vinegary. But the Japanese version is thicker, and made up of molasses, tomato paste, vinegar, and several other seasonings. If you’ve ever had a katsu cutlet, the brown sauce drizzled on top is very similar to Japanese Worcestershire. It’s so popular in Japan that it’s just referred to as “sauce.” 

Bottled yakisoba sauce is often what’s used in Japanese homes to make this quick meal. (It’s sort of like ketchup: You could make it, but the bottled stuff is what’s standard.) But if you don’t have easy access to bottled yakisoba sauce at the grocery store, it’s also easy to make a version at home with pantry ingredients. Store-bought sauces do tend to be quite sweet; I prefer to keep things a bit more balanced, using molasses and white sugar to complement other flavors. I’ve listed the instant dashi powder as optional, as it’s not always easy to find, but it adds depth that’s tricky to replicate.

Credit: Laurel Randolph

How to Adapt This Yakisoba Recipe

  • Swap the vegetables: This version calls for basics like shiitake mushrooms, carrots, and cabbage, but veggies like broccoli, spinach, and bean sprouts can also be added.
  • Substitute the chicken: Chicken is popular, but pork belly is actually more traditional. Ground pork would be a great substitute, and small shrimp would be another quick-cooking option.
  • Make it vegan: Tofu would also be delicious, but further modifications would be needed if you’re looking for a vegetarian dish. (The sauce contains Worcestershire, oyster sauce, and dashi powder, all of which contain fish products.) You can purchase vegan versions of the sauces and simply omit the dashi powder if you’re looking for a fully plant-based meal

Chicken Yakisoba Recipe

What sets this one-pot meal apart from most noodle dishes is its Japanese Worcestershire-like sauce.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 18 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the yakisoba sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon

    oyster sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    ketchup

  • 1 tablespoon

    apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon

    molasses (not blackstrap)

  • 1 tablespoon

    mirin

  • 2 teaspoons

    soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    instant dashi powder (optional)

For the chicken and noodles:

  • 8 to 10 ounces

    boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • 1 teaspoon

    soy sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    toasted sesame oil

  • 6

    fresh shiitake mushrooms (about 5 ounces)

  • 6 leaves

    green cabbage

  • 1

    large carrot

  • 1/2

    small yellow onion

  • 2

    medium scallions

  • 3 tablespoons

    neutral cooking oil, such as canola oil, divided

  • 16 ounces

    fresh yakisoba noodles

  • 1/2 cup

    water, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

Instructions

Make the sauce:

  1. Place 1 tablespoons oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon ketchup, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon molasses, 1 tablespoon mirin, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon instant dashi powder (if using) in a small bowl and stir to combine.

Make the chicken and noodles:

  1. Cut 8 to 10 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a medium bowl. Add 1 teaspoon soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, and stir to coat.

  2. Trim the stems from 6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, then thinly slice the caps. Stack 6 cabbage leaves and chop into 1-inch pieces (3 cups). Peel 1 large carrot. Cut crosswise into thirds, then cut each piece lengthwise into thin planks. Stack the planks and cut lengthwise into matchsticks. Thinly slice 1/2 small yellow onion. Thinly slice 2 medium scallions.

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the neutral oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 16 ounces fresh yakisoba noodles. Carefully pour 1/4 cup of the water over the noodles. Cover and cook the noodles until they start to turn tender and loosen up,1 to 2 minutes. Gently break the noodles up with a wooden spoon to loosen them out of their square shape. Stir-fry until they start to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the noodles to a large plate.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the neutral oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook until well-browned on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the chicken and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to the plate with noodles.

  5. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry until starting to brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Add the cabbage, carrots, and onion, and season with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir-fry until cabbage begins to brown at the edges and the onions start to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.

  6. Spread into an even layer, then return the noodles and chicken to the pan on top of the vegetables. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup water over everything. Cover and let cook until water has mostly evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the sauce and toss to combine. Garnish with the scallions before serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.