Chili Crisp Mazesoba (Mazemen)

published May 15, 2023
Chili Crisp Mazemen Recipe

This saucy, highly slurpable Japanese noodle dish is all about the kaleidoscope of toppings.

ServesServes 2 to 3

Prep15 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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Overhead view of a bowl of chile crisp mazesoba with a bright orange egg yolk being broken with chopstick, toppings neatly placed and not mixed in, on a marble surface
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik; Food Styling: James Park

Mazesoba (まぜそば) — more widely known as mazemen in the United States — is a broth-less type of Japanese noodle dish that I fell in love with immediately after the first time trying it. It’s a saucy, savory, and delightfully slurpable dish of thick noodles coated in a flavorful oil that’s topped with a variety of delicious toppings, such as seasoned meat, fresh chives, and raw egg yolk. Because you don’t need to prepare a broth, it’s an easy weeknight meal that will instantly transport you to a noodle restaurant in Japan.

What Is Mazesoba?

Originating in the 1950s in Nagoya, Japan’s fourth most populated city, mazesoba means “mixed noodles” in Japanese. It’s also referred to as “Taiwan maze soba” because the flavors of Taiwanese noodles inspired the dish. Even though the dish goes by a few different names, it always features these key components: thick noodles, a seasoned meat mixture (often made with ground pork), and a number of various toppings, including fresh chives and egg yolk. 

Is There a Difference Between Mazemen and Mazesoba? 

Mazemen (まぜ麺) is a catch-all term for Japanese broth-less style ramen. Instead of having one particular style, it can be as creative as the chef wants, but it often has thick noodles, tare (liquid seasoning) or flavored oil, and toppings. There are many creative variations, which include uni, steak, and even soft-shell crabs.

Mazesoba, on the other hand, has to be served with a seasoned pork mixture, while mazemen can be topped with anything from chashu to smoked salmon! Mazesoba is a type of mazemen, but not all mazemen are considered mazesoba.

Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik; Food Styling: James Park

What Types of Noodles Should Be Used for Mazesoba? 

Thick ramen noodles or fresh udon noodles are the best choices for mazesoba.

Thick noodles do a great job of absorbing the sauce, and are also easier to mix with all the different toppings. These fresh or frozen noodles can be found easily at Asian supermarkets in the refrigerator section.

Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik; Food Styling: James Park

Why Are There No Soba Noodles in Mazesoba?

The word “soba” is associated with soba noodles, a type of Japanese noodle made from buckwheat. But, for this particular dish, soba refers to the noodles in Japanese (this is similar to other popular Japanese noodle dishes like yakisoba). Here “men,” a Japanese term for noodles, is used interchangeably with “soba,” which is why mazesoba is often called mazemen. 

Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik; Food Styling: James Park

How to Make Mazesoba

The recipe starts with making the seasoned ground pork. Traditionally, doubanjiang (spicy chili sauce) is used to season the pork, but my version uses one of my favorite ingredients: chili crisp. It flavors the meat while adding a nice, subtle heat. If your chili crisp is oil-heavy, use more flavorful bits than the oil itself. 

Aromatic toppings include fresh Chinese chives, scallions, garlic, and roasted seaweed (nori). Because they are prepared fresh, the flavors are more intense when mixed into the noodles. The most important topping is a raw egg yolk, which becomes part of the sauce when incorporated into the noodles, similar to a carbonara. You can use a sous vide egg, but I highly recommend using raw egg yolk for its richness.

When all the components are ready, the last step is to cook the noodles. Once cooked, I coat them with toasted sesame oil, which adds a nutty flavor. Then, it’s time to build your own mazesoba by adding noodles, seasoned pork, and all the aromatic toppings to your bowl. You can be creative with other toppings — fresh basil or chopped-up kimchi would be delicious additions! Just don’t forget to add the egg yolk at the end, and be sure to mix everything well before slurping the noodles.

Chili Crisp Mazemen Recipe

This saucy, highly slurpable Japanese noodle dish is all about the kaleidoscope of toppings.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves Serves 2 to 3

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    ground pork

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon

    soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    mirin

  • 1 cup

    finely chopped Chinese chives (about 1 3/4 ounces)

  • 5

    medium scallions

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 1

    (10-gram) package roasted seaweed snacks (about 20 sheets)

  • 1 tablespoon

    neutral oil, such as vegetable

  • 2 tablespoons

    chili crisp, plus more for serving

  • 1 tablespoon

    oyster sauce

  • 1/4 cup

    water

  • 18 to 24 ounces

    fresh or frozen udon, such as Sanukiya

  • 2 teaspoons

    toasted sesame oil

  • 2 to 3

    large egg yolks

Instructions

  1. Place 1 pound ground pork, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon mirin in a medium bowl and mix everything together with clean hands or spatula. Let sit at room temperature for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients.

  2. Finely chop about 1 3/4 ounces Chinese chives until you have 2/3 cup. Finely chop 5 medium scallions (about 1 cup). Mince 2 garlic cloves. Using kitchen shears, cut 1 (10-gram) package roasted seaweed snacks lengthwise into thin strips.

  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the pork mixture, 2 tablespoons chili crisp, and 1 tablespoon oyster sauce. Cook, breaking up the pork into small crumbles, or until the pork is no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes.

  4. Add 1/4 cup water. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until almost all of the water is evaporated but the mixture looks saucy and not watery, 4 to 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting to keep warm.

  5. Add about 18 to 24 ounces fresh or frozen udon to the boiling water and cook according to package instructions. Drain well.

  6. Divide the noodles between 2 to 3 bowls. Drizzle 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil over the noodles and toss to combine with chopsticks.

  7. Divide the pork and its sauce over the noodles. Artfully arrange the chives, scallions, seaweed strips, and garlic on top. Place 1 large egg yolk in the center of each bowl. To serve, break the egg yolk and mix into the noodles and toppings with chopsticks. Drizzle with more chili crisp if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: This is best served immediately, but leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.