Something I Ate: Yakisoba

yakisoba_320If pre-Labor Day is serious summer and the season for cold noodles, then post-Labor Day is faux fall—and a perfect time for hot noodles.

Few noodle dishes are better than yakisoba, which literally means “fried noodles.” It’s a Japanese dish derived from China and made not from buckwheat (“soba”), but from ramen-like noodles made with wheat flour.

There are some variations of the recipe, but in my home, we fry the noodles with bite-sized pieces of pork, along with some thinly sliced carrots, cabbage, and onion. You can add dashi (fish stock) not just for flavoring, but to help keep the noodles from sticking together.

As with many of the “yaki” dishes (like okonomiyaki and takoyaki), top the fried noodles with aonori (dried seaweed flake) and katsuoboshi (dried tuna flakes), which dance when they hit a hot surface.  You can also add beni shoga (red pickled ginger) and some Japanese mayonnaise if you like.

But be sure to include usuta sosu. Sound it out, and you’ll know it refers to Worcestershire sauce. It’s not quite as thin as Worcestershire, but thinner than the more-readily available tonkotsu sauce, which you can also use if nothing else is available.

We usually eat yakisoba as an entrée, but you can also have it as a side dish. Or you make yakisoba-pan, piling your cooked noodles into a hot dog bun, then garnishing it with mayonnaise and pickled ginger. Any way you like it, this is Japanese street food done at home. Quick to make, quick to eat, and beloved by people of all ages.

First published on TheSunbreak.com on September 10, 2010.

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