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How to Make Japanese Festival Foods: Yakisoba

Yakisoba is one of the easiest festival foods to make at home outside of Japan. Try this quick recipe for a taste of Japanese matsuri, wherever you are in the world.

By 3 min read

At Japanese festivals both in Japan and across the world, it would be unusual not to stumble across a yakisoba stall – the stir-fried noodle dish is a matsuri classic. Every year in Ireland I participate in a festival dedicated to showcasing Japanese food and culture called “Experience Japan”. I always look forward to trying the yakisoba at the event; the queues are long but it’s worth the wait.

Yakisoba is probably one of the easiest festival foods to cook in your kitchen at home, wherever you live. I remember my first apartment in Japan was in a company dorm and the kitchen was tiny! I had to try to limit the number of pots and pans I used when cooking so yakisoba was perfect. It was one of the first Japanese dishes that I cooked after I arrived in Japan and it was such a success that I started to make it quite often (probably too often).

Similar to my okonomiyaki recipe, you can use your favorite ingredients for this. Meat and/or seafood goes really well, especially pork belly if you can get it.

Person making yakisoba at a Japanese festival

Yakisoba recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 bundles or portions of egg or ramen noodles (卵麺 ramen)
  • Vegetable oil (植物油 shokubutsuabura)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely sliced (卵麺 tamanegi)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely diced (ニンニクnin’niku)
  • 1 thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and grated (生姜 shōga)
  • Large handful of savoy cabbage leaves, washed and finely chopped (キャベツ kyabetsu)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut julienne style (人参 ninjin)
  • Large handful of beansprouts, washed (もやし moyashi)

For the sauce *

  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons tomato ketchup (トマトケチャップtomatokyatsupu
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (ウスターソースusutahsousu)
  • 1 tablespoon sake or red wine (日本酒nihonshu) / (赤ワインakawain
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (しょうゆshouyu)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (砂糖satou

*You can also buy ready-made yakisoba sauce in Japan or a dried seasoning is included in some of the yakisoba noodle packs. They are very convenient but I prefer to make my own from scratch.

To garnish

Milled nori or dillisk seaweed (青のりaonori
Beni shoga (red pickled ginger) (紅生姜beni shoga

Method

  1. To make the home-made yakisoba sauce, put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes on a medium heat until the sauce thickens to the same consistency as tomato ketchup. Set aside.
  2. Cook the noodles according to the pack instructions, then set aside. Heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan or wok and fry the onion for a minute. Then add the garlic and ginger along with the cabbage and fry for a minute or so before adding the carrots and beansprouts. Don’t overcook the vegetables so they keep their crunchy texture.
  3. Toss the noodles and sauce into the stir-fry and mix well, continuing to fry for a few minutes.
  4. Top with milled nori or dillisk seaweed and beni shoga.

Have you ever heard of yakisoba-pan? It’s a hotdog style bread roll stuffed with yakisoba. For people who have never lived in Japan it might sound strange to put noodles in a sandwich but it’s a popular fast food for Japanese people. You can make your own. Just simply place a handful of your cooked yakisoba into a buttered roll and enjoy!

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  • gabrielle says:

    Are the noodles supposed to be cooked or raw?

    • Fiona Uyema says:

      Hi Gabrielle depending on the type of noodles you buy they may need to be cooked before adding to the stir-fry or they may be precooked (in this case you just need to rinse them in boiling water). Always read the cooking instructions on the back of the noodle packaging. I hope this helps. Fiona

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