- What is yakisoba?
- Types of yakisoba
- Which noodles are used for yakisoba?
- How to make yakisoba
- How to make yakisoba sauce
- How to eat yakisoba
- What is yakisoba bread?
- How many calories in yakisoba?
- Are yakisoba noodles healthy?
- Where can I buy yakisoba?
- Yakisoba restaurants
- What is the origin of yakisoba?
- Why is yakisoba popular?
- Trivia about yakisoba
What is yakisoba?
Yakisoba is a relatively modern but very traditional dish from Japanese cuisine consisting on stir fried noodles mixed with vegetables, tofu and/or small pieces of meat. In addition, these noodles are flavored with a condiment similar to dense oyster sauce.
The name yakisoba comes from the words “yaki” and “soba”. Although this is commonly translated as “fried soba”, the verb “yaku” in Japanese is not exactly the same as fry. “Yaku” not necessarily requires oil, actually typical yakisoba uses just a bit of oil to fry the vegetables and meat but not extra oil is added to roast the noodles. Yakisoba is considered fast food and it is a very popular street food during events and festivals.
Types of yakisoba
There is no such thing as yakisoba types, however, depending in the ingredients mixed with the fried noodles, the sauces and sometimes the cooking style, we can find many local recipes for yakisoba. In this section we are going to show you the most popular ones.
1. Fujinomiya Yakisoba (Shizuoka)
Probably the most popular recipe of yakisoba. Noodles are fried separately from meat and cabbage. After mixing them, yakisoba sauce is added together with bonito flakes. Finally, pickled ginger is commonly used as topping decoration.
2. Yokote Yakisoba (Akita)
To cook this yakisoba, noodle are fried together with minced pork and cabbage. The mix is flavoured with a slightly sweet sauce and topped with an egg. Final presentation includes pickled vegetables.
3. Jyoshu Ota Yakisoba (Gunma)
This yakisoba main ingredient is a thick black sauce that give it a dark color. The rest of ingredients fried together with the noodle might vary depending on the recipe.
4. Hita Yakisoba (Ooita)
Hita yakisoba recipe mixes noodles, sprouts and pork. The mix is fried at high temperatures on the teppan (big iron plate) to achieve a crispy texture of the ingredients.
5. Namie Yakisoba (Fukushima)
Namie yakisoba also uses sprouts and minced pork as ingredients. However, what makes this recipe different is the thickness of its noodles. Similar to udon noodles, Namie yakisoba noodles are around 3 times thicker than those on traditional yakisoba.
6. Hiruzen Yakisoba (Okayama)
Hiruzen yakisoba is based on cabbage and chicken like many other yakisoba recipes. But what makes this local dish special is a very elaborated sauce made mainly from miso sauce, garlic and onion.
7. Itoigawa Black Yakisoba (Niigata)
Although the ingredients used for the mix of this yakisoba recipe vary depending on the restaurant, what never changes is its traditional and intense black color obtained from squid ink. In the most tradition version pieces of squid are fried together with the noodles during preparation.
8. Okhotsk Kitami Shio Yakisoba (Hokkaido)
This yakisoba uses the popular ingredients from Kitami City. Onion and scallops are fried together with the yakisoba noodles. Sauce is not used in this recipe, instead, the mix is flavoured with salt.
9. Kuroishi Tsuyu Yakisoba (Aomori)
This yakisoba follows a traditional recipe of mixing and frying noodles, cabbage and meat. However, the presentation of the dish includes the addition of ramen broth.
Which noodles are used for yakisoba?
Yakisoba includes the word “soba” which is a traditional type of Japanese noodle made from buckwheat. However, and independently of what many people think, yakisoba can be prepared both from soba noodles (buckwheat) or from other flour wheat noodles like ramen. What gives yakisoba its traditional taste is the cooking method.
How to make yakisoba sauce
Yakisoba sauce includes soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, tomato sauce, hoisin sauce, raw sugar and a bit of ginger. In the video above we let you the preparation of an easy and step-by-step recipe for yakisoba sauce.
How to make yakisoba
Yakisoba is a very easy dish to prepare, it just requires a selection of ingredients to fry and the addition of noodles at the sauce at the end. In the following video we you can see a step-by-step easy to cook Yakisoba noodle recipe using pork mean, onion, carrots, mushrooms and cabbage.
How to eat yakisoba
Typically yakisoba noodles are served on a plate as a main or side dish. When you get them from street markets, convenience stores or supermarket they come in a plastic recipient.
Also, in supermarkets they sell instant yakisoba. To prepare this instant noodles you should pour hot water inside the recipient of the noodles, wait for 3 minutes and throw the water away. Instant noodles come with the instruction for preparation and an easy way to pour and drop the hot water.
Once you have your noodles ready, you can add mayonnaise and used your chopsticks to eat them. Unlike ramen noodles, yakisoba do not includes broth which makes this dish not as hot as ramen and easier to eat.
What is yakisoba bread?
Although in many foreign countries noodle sandwiches are certainly not common, yakisoba is so loved by Japanese that its sandwich version became incredibly popular. It consists on a soft baguette opened in half and filled with yakisoba noodles. In Japan it is known as yakisoba pan because they exported the word pan (bread) from portuguese missionaries during the 16th century. Nowadays yakisoba pan can be acquired on any supermarket and convenience store.
How many calories in yakisoba?
Yakisoba calories will fluctuate a bit depending on the vegetables and meats included in the dish. However most of the calories comes from the carbohydrates in the noodles.
The average ration of yakisoba contains around 800 calories coming from approximately 13.8 g of fat, 98.1 g of carbohydrates and 38.7 from protein.
Are yakisoba noodles healthy?
Although the amount of oil used to cook yakisoba is just a few, all its ingredients (including noodles and sauce) are stir fried. This makes yakisoba not a very healthy option “within Japanese cuisine”.
However, this last appreciation is very important because Japanese diet is really healthy because is very low in fat. Yakisoba is not an exception, even if within Japanese dishes is considered unhealthy, compared with many european or american meals is still a healthier option.
So here we will provide some tricks so you can enjoy yakisoba within a healthier diet:
Use good oils: One option will be not using oil at all, is perfectly possible is you have a good anti adherent pan. If you use oil, try to use vegetable oils like olive oil. Another option is to use the fat from the meat you are cooking as frying oil (in the case you are using pork, per example).
Choose nice ingredients: Balance the nutritional content of your yakisoba by a careful selection of ingredients. Try to include vegetables and meat in appropriate proportions.
Don’t eat yakisoba everyday: Yakisoba is high calories food, therefore if you eat everyday, the carbohydrates that you don’t burn each day, will be accumulated as fat. Try to moderate the consumption of yakisoba and, if you have the option, try to eat those days that you need a big dose of energies.
Where can I buy yakisoba?
If you live in Japan and you wanna enjoy the real Japanese yakisoba experience, my personal recommendation will be to join a matsuri festival and get some yakisoba from a street stand. You won’t just enjoy the delicious taste of yakisoba but also you will enjoy its traditional preparation in big iron plates (teppan).
In supermarkets and convenience stores it easy to find already prepared yakisoba (in convenience stores you can even warn it up!). Also, in this stores you can find yakisoba pan and instant yakisoba. Finally, on every supermarket they sell individual rations of plain yakisoba noodles for around 20 yen (20 cents). If you like to cook, you can just buy your own meat and vegetables and prepare your favourite yakisoba at home.
To enjoy the real Japanese yakisoba it should be obtained from a street stall during matsuri festivals. Because of that there are not many restaurants specialized in yakisoba. However, in this section we will show so you some of them.
Seto No Yakisoba Fukuzo
This restaurant in Nagoya serve all kinds of yakisoba and their specialty is based on seafood. Rations are abundant and prices are quite cheap.
Yakisoba Center Iwakura
In this restaurant you can see how they prepare yakisoba over the teppan (big iron plate). You can choose the taste of your yakisoba sauce among several.
Fujinomiya Yakisoba Maruki
This small local place makes basic but traditional yakisoba. The owners put many efforts on keeping the original taste of yakisoba.
What is the origin of yakisoba?
Yakisoba is a relatively new dish in Japanese cuisine. After world war II, some black markets popped up around the country to attend the needs for food. Inspired in the chinese cuisine, the basic ingredients of yakisoba were cheap and easy to obtain. In addition, the use of teppan (big iron plates) allowed cooking big amounts of this food. This 2 factors made yakisoba a perfect business for street stalls.
First historical records of yakisoba appear in the 1930’s with the name of “ sauce yakisoba ” as a snack popular among kids. This popularity rapidly extended to the rest of the population and yakisoba started to be commercialized in supermarkets and convenience store.
Nowadays, although yakisoba is still an icon for street food, you can find many commercialized products based on it like instant yakisoba noodles and yakisoba pan.
Why is yakisoba popular?
As mentioned in the previous section, the initial boom of yakisoba in Japan came after world war II. Yakisoba was a cheap dish that could be prepared in big amounts on street stalls. Its slightly sweet taste (given by the yakisoba sauce) made yakisoba popular among kids.
The popularity of this dish extended all over Japan but it didn’t end there. With the raice of the millionaire company Nissin from the inventor of “cup noodles”, Momofuku Ando, yakisoba was also popularized in many countries.
There are different reasons why Japanese people love yakisoba nowadays:
First, delicious: Not only because of it taste but also its smell. If you live in Japan you will realize soon that just smelling how someone is preparing a instant cup of yakisoba, makes everyone in the mood for this food.
Second, cheap and familiar: It is so traditional during festivals that many families and groups of friends do not understand these events without tasting yakisoba in groups. Its low price make yakisoba available for everyone.
Finally, quick and effective: Yakisoba is meal rich in carbohydrates very easy to cook or buy. Therefore, during busy days or after a long day of work, a dish of yakisoba give you plenty of energies with little effort.
Trivia about yakisoba
Chow mein in the name of the Chinese food from with Japanese people got the idea of yakisoba. Chow mein means stir-fried noodles in chinese, which is very close to the Japanese meaning of yakisoba (fried buckwheat noodles). Actually, chow mein has been exported to chinese restaurants all around the world and it recipe has been slightly adapted to the preferences of each culture.
Top Ramen and Maruchan brands of yakisoba
Nissin is a Japanese company founded by Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant Japanese noodles. This company was created in 1958 with the development of the world’s first instant ramen. Nowadays they are the major providers or cup noodles in Asian countries
On the other side Toyu Suisan is another company founded in 1953 by Kazuo Mori that was at the beginning specialized on frozen fish distribution. With the pass of years this company shifted to the business of instant and frozen noodles. Nowadays Toyu Suisan is the main distributor of instant noodles in America.
American brands of instant noodles distributed by Nissin and Toyu Suisan are Top Ramen and Maruchan respectively. Although Toyu Suisan dominates American market, american fan of each brand defend their choice strongly. Internet discussions are full of feelings and subjective statements regarding which is the best brand. One way or the other, this two brand really reach people’s heart.