How to Make Japanese Festival Foods: Yakisoba
By Fiona Uyema
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.
- 2 bundles or portions of egg or ramen noodles (卵麺)
- Vegetable oil (植物油)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and finely sliced (卵麺)
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely diced (ニンニク)
- 1 thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and grated (生姜)
- Large handful of savoy cabbage leaves, washed and finely chopped (キャベツ)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut julienne style (人参)
- Large handful of beansprouts, washed (もやし)
For the sauce *
- 4 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons tomato ketchup (トマトケチャップ）
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (ウスターソース)
- 1 tablespoon sake or red wine (日本酒) / (赤ワイン)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (しょうゆ)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (砂糖
*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.
Milled nori or dillisk seaweed (青のり）
Beni shoga (red pickled ginger) （紅生姜）
- 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.
- 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.
- Toss the noodles and sauce into the stir-fry and mix well, continuing to fry for a few minutes.
- 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!