Making Japanese Yakisoba (焼そば)
Recently I have tried cooking some of my favorite Japanese foods at home. One of the easiest Japanese foods to cook, and one of the most delicious, is Yakisoba (焼そば). Made with just a few ingredients, all you have to do is fry them up in a pan. Making Japanese Yakisoba (焼そば) is so easy, that it is a very popular Japanese street food that you can find at street stalls, tourist destinations, and festivals. All you need is some thinly sliced pork (bacon-like slices豚肉ばらスライス), cabbage, soba noodles, and some Yakisoba sauce. The ingredients for Yakisoba are very inexpensive. Of course, you can add any other vegetables or meats that you like. You can have Yakisoba any way you like it.
Here in Hiroshima, we like to make it simple and we just use Otafuku Okonomi Sauce. I mean, Hiroshima is the hometown of the best style of Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き) in the world. There is even a building in Hiroshima with about 25 Okonomiyaki restaurants, Okonomimura. The headquarters of the best Okonomi Sauce maker in Japan, Otafuku, is also located here in Hiroshima. Coincidentally, they also make a Yakisoba Sauce. Otafuku Okonomi sauce is sweet and savory, and is made from tomatoes, carrots, apples, pumpkin, dates, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, salt, spices, kelp, shiitake powder, and a few other things. The most delicious sauce you have ever tasted. The sauce will be added at the end of cooking, after the vegetables, pork, and noodles are cooked to your liking. You can find Otafuku Okonomiyaki Sauce on Amazon in a 17oz bottle or a 78oz bottle. Although the 78oz seems a little suspicious since it is much less expensive (per oz) than the smaller bottle. I haven’t bought these off Amazon, since I can buy it right next store in the grocery store.
Soba noodles that are used in Yakisoba are like Ramen noodles but are not the same. They are made with wheat flour, not buckwheat. Even though they can be yellow in color, they are not egg noodles. Soba noodles are inexpensive and easy to find in Japan. If I remember correctly, the single 135g pack of noodles made by Marukin was less than 25 yen. That is less than 25 cents!
THE MEAT AND VEGETABLES
Well, this is really up to you and your preference for meats and vegetables. You can put just about anything you want in your Yakisoba. This could be why it is a popular food in Japan. Quick and easy to cook, it works well as a festival street food, and it is very easy to cook at home. All you need are the few ingredients and a frying pan. Mostly though, you are going to see cabbage, sprouts, carrots, and other light vegetables in Yakisoba. And although you can use beef or chicken, in Japan you will likely have a thinly sliced pork in your Yakisoba. You can even add toppings like Tenkasu (kind of like fried tempura batter droppings).
When making Japanese Yakisoba (焼そば), it can be made with any added ingredients that you would like to have in it. The way you cook Yakisoba can also be done to your preference. I like a harder, almost crispy noodle. In this case, starting with frying up the noodles first may work for you. At first, you might want to add a tablespoon, or two, of water to the noodles in the pan so that they will moisten up a bit. This will make it much easier to get the noodles out of the large, refrigerated clump they came in. Fry the noodles in some oil first, and then you can fry them to your preferred level of crispiness or leave them soft if you like them that way.
Then all you need to do is throw in the cabbage and pork and fry until they are cooked through. You can either leave the noodles in the pan while frying the cabbage and pork, or you can add them back in later when the cabbage and pork are done cooking. When the soba, cabbage, and pork are cooked the way you want, add in the Okonomi sauce. Add in however much you want. Start with a little bit first, and then taste before you add more.
If you are using other vegetables or meats, you will need to time the cooking properly if you are going to leave everything in the pan while cooking. Add in the thicker solid vegetables or meats, which take longer to cook, to the pan first, and then later add the “softer” vegetables and meats. Making Japanese Yakisoba (焼そば) is a fun and rewarding process, especially if you are not well practiced at cooking.
Ingredients (per serving):
135g – Soba Noodles (焼そば)
One half of ¼ head of Cabbage
100g – Pork (sliced like bacon and cut into bite size pieces) (豚肉ばらスライス)
2 Tbsp – Vegetable Oil
If you don’t have access to a Yakisoba or Okonomiyaki sauce, you can make a Yakisoba Sauce with the following (or search for a recipe):
1 Tbsp – Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp – Oyster Sauce
4 Tbsp – Worcestershire Sauce
1.5 Tbsp – Sugar
1.5 Tbsp – Ketchup
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