I hesitate to call this fast food…just the mention of those 2 words conjures images of burgers and burritos thrown together with questionable ingredients, and laden with unhealthy fats/carbs/sugars. But they’re quick and easy and cheap and readily available and we’ve all succumbed to those seductive qualities. You know you have.
And you know where I’m going with this, right? Yakisoba is fast food done right. Japanese street food… fast, easy, quick, cheap, AND nutritious. Oh, this is good stuff, people. It’s a Mark Bittman recipe, and he got it so right. The sauce is complex and tasty and a snap to throw together. You can add any veggies and meats you want, and you can use just about any wheat or egg noodle. Or so he says.
I’m going to go out here on a limb and say definitively that not just any noodle works here. I chose four noodle candidates… yes, I’ve made this four times in the last month just so I could get it right for you. I take my job here very seriously, people.
The first time I made this I used a Japanese udon noodle and wasn’t all that happy with how it turned out. Mr. Bittman used a curly noodle, which I couldn’t find locally and ended up ordering online. You can buy them as either a Japanese or a Chinese noodle.
I love the curly noodle in this and can unequivocally say it’s a great choice. The texture is a little chewy which I really liked.
Then I made it with a Chinese egg noodle, and after the votes were tallied, it was the clear winner. Hands down.
No matter which noodle you choose here, the most, most important thing is not to overcook them. Three minutes, people. That’s it. Then rinse, drain, and spritzle with a little toasted sesame oil and they’re ready to toss with your veggies.
You can basically use any veggies you want in this. Cabbage is traditional, and I loved the napa cabbage, but I’ve also used kale, bok choy, and a pre-chopped cabbage/veggie blend. Meat is optional, and I used tofu each time, but Mark used pork.
But no kidding. This is so easy to throw together and it really is fast. From beginning to end, 13 minutes. In my book that qualifies as fast food.
Yes, people I have a serious yakisoba crush. As I said, I’ve made this 4 times in the last month and am already thinking about when I will make it again. And whenever that is, it’s not soon enough. Here's the recipe...
Recipe courtesy of Mark Bittman
This really is an amazingly delicious version of yakisoba that has become part of our regular dinner rotation. The only change I made to the recipe was to add a teaspoon of cornstarch to the sauce. Without it, the sauce sort of sinks to the bottom of the bowl instead of coating the noodles and flavoring each bite. Feel free to add whatever veggies you have on hand. I love to add in sliced mushrooms and often substitute sliced radishes for the carrots.
6 ounces dried or 10 to 12 ounces fresh Chinese egg noodles
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 pork chops, thinly sliced (or sliced chicken or cubed tofu)
1 small head Napa or savoy cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
2 carrots, shredded
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons mirin or a bit of sugar
Few drops hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1 bunch scallions, chopped, white parts only
Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it, and add noodles. Cook until just done, about 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and run under cold water. Toss noodles with sesame oil to keep them from sticking together, and set aside.
Put peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add ginger and cook, stirring, until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Add pork and cook for about 5 minutes or until the pork is no longer pink and is starting to brown around the edges.
Add cabbage and carrots to skillet and stir; sprinkle with salt. Continue to cook until vegetables soften, adding a bit of water, as needed to keep them from sticking.
Meanwhile, stir together in a small bowl ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mirin, and hot sauce. Whisk in the cornstarch. When vegetables are soft and any liquid has evaporated, add the sauce, stirring until it begins to thicken slightly. Add the noodles and most of the chopped scallions to the to skillet. Toss to coat everything well and cook until noodles are warmed through. Serve, topped with the remaining chopped scallions.