I’ll admit it, I love anime. It’s a great time killer, full of hilarity, and gives me a most likely skewed view of what Japanese culture is like. I wonder how many Japanese parents really do set up their kids in apartments and let them fend for themselves? Seems like a common situation say, 90% of the time.
Another side effect of watching all this anime is the desire to eat lots and lots of Japanese food. I mean sure, sashimi, that’s delicious, but it’s so ingrained into the American dining culture that it hardly raises any eyebrows.
But putting a noodle dish into a bun? That’s exciting! What is it that I speak of? Yakisoba bread of course!
Yakisoba is Japanese fried noodles, typically served as street food, I believe. And Yakisoba bread is this dish served in a split roll, with a bit of adjustment in seasoning.
For my first foray into the realm of slightly odder Japanese cooking I used this recipe from Asian Supper. I particularly liked that there was a recipe to make your own sauce, rather than relying on something store-bought.
Sugar, sake, Worcestershire sauce, Mirin, Ketchup and Soy sauce are the ingredients.
Be sure to use the “Finest Japanese Sake.” Or not. I just bought this brand because it was cheap and the name was hilarious.
Five tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, four tablespoons of soy sauce, one tablespoon of sugar and sake and one teaspoon of Mirin are mixed together, and set aside.
Here are the rest of the ingredients, perhaps with some errors. Pork (which should be shoulder or butt), onion, carrot, cabbage (which should be Napa, not this regular kind), egg noodles (which should be ramen, not this rather flat kind), and bean sprouts.
And the bread, which we’ll get to later. I have no idea what kind of bun is typically used for yakisoba bread, but I’ve a technique that will make it good for this purpose.
Now the ingredient prep.
Healthy pile of onion, cut into half circles (half a small onion’s worth).
Cabbage sliced thinly.
And carrots julienned. This is my first time actually julienning anything. Thankfully YouTube came to the rescue in helping me see exactly how it was done. Fittingly the guest chef is Japanese!
Basically cut the carrot into sections.
Slice off an end to make it stable.
Slice into sheets.
And cut into strips. Matchsticks maybe?
And here’s the whole carrot. Those smaller pieces are tough man.
By the way, here’s what 200 grams of egg noodles look like.
As I used fresh, it didn’t even need more than 2 minutes of a dunk into boiling water to get tender.
Nothing really exciting happens. This about sums it up.
And voila, silky egg noodle sheets. Why did I pick this style? Even though all these recipes called for ramen noodles it still seemed to me as though the pictures show noodles much thicker than ramen… anyway, I’ll need to try again at some point.
A bit of sesame oil to keep them from sticking. Or a lot of it.
A revised picture of ingredients ready to go. Noodles, sauce, a small handful of washed bean sprouts, julienned carrots, sliced pork, sliced cabbage and sliced onion.
I’m an Asian without a Wok. It’s not like I’m Chinese, or it would really be unforgivable. Still, the enameled French oven seemed to work for the task.
The pork pieces are browned in vegetable oil.
And set aside.
Onions start the next stage, allowed to get translucent..
..and are joined by the carrots.
Then the cabbage. Those thick pieces should really not be that thick. To mitigate, some water was added to make some hot steam, helping break down the cabbage quicker.
The recipe didn’t state where to throw in the bean sprouts so now is a good time.
Then the noodles are thrown in as well. Some huge chopsticks really help to keep everything even distributed as you mix.
But now for the money maker. Sauce! Added about a third and tasted it. Could use a bit more. I say for eating just as Yakisoba, half of the sauce recipe is fine. More on that later.
And now add the pork! Mix mix mix.
A lovely caramel color overtakes the dish.
And wow! Pretty good! But I didn’t just want to make a noodle dish, I wanted the whole experience.
The benign Vietnamese style French roll. Great for Vietnamese sandwiches, but how about for yakisoba? Adjustments need to be made. First the split. Elementary but necessary.
Now get your favorite medium sized pan and melt some butter.
No, seriously, press it.
Everywhere. Maybe even turn it a few degrees to make sure no butter goes to waste.
Ok not bad! Press this side too. You want to make sure the bread is heated through so you have that nicer toasted bread taste rather than that boring taste bread can have sometimes without the addition of heat. I guess this is more a problem with Vietnamese style French rolls rather than all breads.
And top. Note, I have seasoned a batch of yakisoba with almost the rest of the sauce in order to amp the flavor up. That’s because bread will dilute the flavor of the yakisoba so seasoning needs to be adjusted to maintain balance.
Judgment? I loved it. Possibly inappropriate substitutions aside, I think it was a great dish, and I’ll have to make it again. The sauce had an interesting blend of sweet, tangy and salty.
Next time I think I’ll go with chicken rather than pork next time. And I’ll need to be more rigorous in tracking down the katsuobushi (dried fish flakes) and pickled ginger which apparently joins yakisoba to really round out the flavor.
Recipe in a nutshell, adapted from Asian Supper.
For the sauce, combine:
5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp sake
1 tsp mirin
and a big squeeze of ketchup.
Set aside until called for in recipe.
200g Chinese egg noodles, or ramen noodles
1/4 lb thinly sliced pork belly (or shoulder)
vegetable oil for frying
dash of sesame oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced into thin semi-circles
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 cup of mung bean sprouts
1/2 head of small cabbage, sliced
1. Prepare noodles as necessary, which really means boil until tender then drain. Sprinkle sesame oil on to keep noodles from sticking.
2. Fry up pork pieces until brown, set aside.
3. Fry onion until they start to turn translucent, then add carrots, cooking a bit. Then add cabbage and bean sprouts.
4. Add noodles, a third of the sauce, then adjust to taste. Add pork and mix well. If you’re making yakisoba bread, season more than you think you need.
5. Prepare bread as necessary (see pictures for an idea). Fill bread with yakisoba, and enjoy!