If you like chow mein, you just might love Japanese yakisoba. If you don’t, you might not know how to love
Just like chow mein noodles, yakisoba is stir-fried although unlike the Chinese version which is prepared in a wok which provides that delicious “wok hei” flavor (the “wok’s breath”), the Japanese version is prepared on a teppan (basically a griddle). As far as I know, or have tasted, there is no teppan breath, so the noodles and toppings have got to do most of the heavy lifting which it does because the Japanese mayo (Kewpie is the Miracle Whip of Japan), aonori (green seaweed flakes), to beni shoga (pickled julienned ginger) make this dish distinctively Japanese.
One time in Colorado, I tried out a Japanese themed restaurant with an item they had called “yaki udon.” So I asked dude working the kitchen if it was a stir fried udon noodle, and he replied back “you’re think of yakitori.” Well, ok, but if you know basic Japanese, you would know that “yaki” just means grilled, and “tori” means chicken, so “yaki udon” should mean grilled udon noodles…. he just walked away.
Even if you’re on a budget, everyday can be a festival for you
A festival of noodles that is, and only if you have about $2.50 per serving. If you got that kind of money, here are the two most common brands of yakisoba which are either sold instant or fresh:
- Maruchan (they go way back with instant noodles) – Maruchan’s story first began in 1953 when a young and determined Japanese visionary named Kazuo Mori started a small, frozen fish distributorship in Tokyo. Through hard work, commitment and perseverance, Mr. Mori’s modest company soon grew into a successful food company, known as Toyo Suisan. And they weren’t going to stop at frozen fish. They were just getting started.
- Myojo (this company has some amazing air dried noodles) – manufactures and markets processed food products. The company offers instant noodles, fresh noodles, Italian pasta, and Japanese noodles. The company was founded in 1950 and is based in Tokyo, Japan with additional offices in Singapore, Malaysia, and the United States. As of March 27, 2007, Myojo Foods Co., Ltd. operates as a subsidiary of Nissin Foods Holdings Co., Ltd.
If you’re a basic bitch (the standard packaged ingredients):
- Sauce: yakisoba sauce and sometimes mayo.
- Dehydrated veggies: it’s commonly something that looks like cabbage.
If you fancy (if you’re being extra with your ingredients):
- Meat: add ham, chicken, shrimp, or whatever you have because most meats will work nicely.
- Sauce: extra yakisoba sauce (Otafuku is a popular brand) and Japanese mayo (Kewpie is a popular brand).
- Fresh vegetables: I go hard on the vegetables, and I highly recommend a bunch of shredded to diced cabbage, sliced onions, julienned carrots, and bean sprouts.
- Additional toppings: I think beni shoga to aonori are critical in topping it all off.
Preparing instant yakisoba
All you have to do is add hot water to the tray.
After a few minutes, you will drain the water from the package.
If you’re doing it right, you’ll have some limp noodles and vegetables ready for you to devour.
Well, not till you douse a load of sauce in with your noodles.
There’s the sweeter and saltier yakisoba sauce and then there’s the creamy Japanese mayo.
Where to buy:
I prefer Tokyo Central for their prices although I would also check Amazon.