Yakisoba

published Jan 4, 2023
Yakisoba Recipe

An endlessly flexible noodle dish, yakisoba adapts beautifully to any vegetables and thick cuts of meat you have on hand.

Serves4

Prep20 minutes

Cook15 minutes to 20 minutes

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Credit: Sahara Bohoskey

Noodles are one of my go-to meals to make, and yakisoba can easily adapt to whatever veggies I have on hand. Yakisoba recipes often call for green cabbage, onion, carrots, and pork belly. But when I’m not able to source pork belly, I find that thick-cut bacon (which I call for here) works just the same. As for the vegetables, mushrooms, peas, corn, bok choy, Broccolini, or whatever hearty green you have on hand would be delicious too.

For this recipe, just don’t skip on the garnish — it really makes the dish. The true star is the seaweed powder, aka aonori. It adds an umami vegetal component that would surely be missed if you were to leave it out. This ingredient may be a little bit harder to find, but you can buy it online. Or it’s easy to make at home! Using a package of your favorite toasted or untoasted seaweed snacks, break up a serving with your hand and blitz it in your food processor, Vitamix, or Nutribullet to a very fine powder. I like to make this in big batches for homemade furikake, and top with anything from rice bowls, noodles, you name it.

Let’s Talk About Noodles

Many yakisoba packages come in sets of three or four individually packaged yakisoba noodles. Although “soba” is in the name, these aren’t the buckwheat variety you might be familiar with. They’re pale yellow in color and made of wheat.

To help with even cooking and to keep the long strands of noodles intact, I added a step to soak the individually packaged yakisoba noodle “cakes” before the stir-fry. I’ve tested the recipe with and without this step and, trust me, it yields a more evenly cooked noodle that won’t break up as it does when cooked directly from the square cake. If you can’t find yakisoba, try making this recipe with hydrated packaged udon. This is yaki udon which is also really delicious. 

Next, the Sauce

When you buy yakisoba, it usually comes with flavor packages. Although there’s nothing wrong with these packages, you can also make the sauce from scratch. I love both methods.

This homemade yakisoba sauce is made of salty, sweet, and tangy components, with a little Western influence. Oyster sauce, soy sauce and ketchup are paired with tonkatsu sauce (or Worcestershire sauce), which adds a salty tang. I highly recommend you invest in a Japanese tonkastu sauce, but if you don’t have it but do already have Worcestershire sauce, please use that! Black pepper is key here — you can really feel the difference if you’re missing it. I mention adding a 1/4 teaspoon, but if you like that peppery-mildly spicy flavor, add 1/2 teaspoon and thank me later.

Yakisoba Recipe

An endlessly flexible noodle dish, yakisoba adapts beautifully to any vegetables and thick cuts of meat you have on hand.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons

    soy sauce

  • 3 tablespoons

    Japanese tonkatsu sauce or Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tablespoons

    ketchup

  • 2 tablespoons

    oyster sauce

  • 3 (about 5-ounce) packages

    fresh yakisoba noodles, thawed if frozen

  • 1

    small or 1/2 medium yellow onion

  • 1 pound

    green cabbage

  • 1

    medium carrot

  • 3

    mediums scallions

  • 3 slices

    thick-cut bacon (about 7 ounces)

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons

    neutral oil, such as vegetable

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • Nori (dried green seaweed) powder, for garnish (optional)

  • Pickled ginger, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons tonkatsu sauce, 2 tablespoons ketchup, and 2 tablespoons oyster sauce in a small bowl and stir to combine.

  2. Place 3 (about 15-ounce) packages fresh yakisoba noodles (discard the seasoning packets) in a large heatproof bowl. Pour enough boiling water over the noodles until they are covered and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir and agitate the noodles to loosen. Drain.

  3. Cut 1 small onion or 1/2 medium yellow onion into 1/4-inch thick wedges. Peel 1 medium carrot and cut into thin matchsticks. Wash and trim the thick core from 1 pound green cabbage. Cut into 1-inch pieces until you have about 4 cups and separate any leaves that are stick together. Cut 3 medium scallions crosswise into thirds. Cut 3 slices thick-cut bacon crosswise into 1-inch pieces.

  4. Heat 3 tablespoons neutral oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and bacon and spread into an even layer. Cook undisturbed until browned on the bottom, about 7 minutes. Stir and continue to cook until the onions and bacon are deep golden brown, about 4 minutes more.

  5. Add the carrots and 1/4 black pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the cabbage, noodles, and soy sauce mixture. Stir-fry until the sauce clings to the noodles and vegetables and they are heated through, about 3 minutes. Garnish with nori powder and pickled ginger if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.