Yakisoba: Japanese Noodle Stir Fry
Yakisoba is a Japanese noodle dish that literally translates to grilled (yaki) noodles (soba). This Japanese dish has a heavy Chinese influence and is very similar to Chinese Chow Mein. Both dishes feature stir fried noodles, however, Chinese chow mein uses wheat noodles that are often fried crisp or nearly crisp before being mixed or topped with the stir fried vegetables.
Yakisoba can use either wheat noodles (like ramen) or traditional buckwheat noodles (soba noodles). The noodles are stir fried with meat and vegetables. The dish is incredibly versatile and you will find many versions using different meats and vegetables. Amidst the variations, pork seems to be the most common meat and carrots and cabbage are the most frequently used vegetables.
Once the vegetables and meat have cooked and the cooked noodles have been added and sauteed briefly, a sweet and slightly salty sauce is added to the pan. You can find Yakisoba sauce sold in specialty Asian stores, but the ingredients used to create the traditional Yakisoba flavor can be made using ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and fridge: soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and sugar.
Like most noodle dishes, Yakisoba comes together incredibly quickly, making it a perfect weeknight meal for using up whatever meat and vegetables you have on hand. And, while Japanese noodles are traditional to use, you could even use spaghetti or linguini noodles if that’s what you have on hand!
Learn everything you need to know about the most common strands
If youve ever perused the noodle aisle at an Asian supermarket, you know the variety can be dizzying for home cooks who arent familiar with the many types.
And its one thing to follow a recipe—simply buy and use whatever noodle the recipe calls for. But what if youre looking to experiment and branch out a little? In that case, youll want to know a little more about what each type of noodle is all about.
Asian noodles are broadly divided into three types: wheat noodles, rice noodles, and glass or cellophane noodles. Learn more about each type below, complete with the most popular examples of each, handy cooking tips, and recipes.
In many cases, each type of noodle can be served in various ways, like in broth, stir-fried, deep-fried, as well as either cold or hot.
Wheat is the most popular grain used for making noodles around the world, and this is true of Asian noodles as well.
Asian wheat noodles are generally made with wheat flour and egg, just like Italian pasta. One key difference, however, is that—while Italian pasta is made by rolling and then slicing the dough—many forms of Asian egg noodles are made by pulling and stretching the noodles.
This works the glutens in the dough, just as rolling does, but the resulting noodles differ in their texture and consistency. In general, Asian noodles are springier and bouncier than their Italian counterparts.
Udon is another common Japanese noodle made from wheat flour. Compared to soba, udon is much thicker, and is more often found in noodle soups. These noodles are less nutty than soba and are a little bit thicker and have a chewy, glutinous texture.
In Japan, restaurants will top a brothy bowl of udon with everything from raw egg to braised beef. Udon also make a great match for a sauce of buttery kimchi and scallions.
This article has been edited to acknowledge that it is in no way a comprehensive guide to Asian noodles. See more about our archive repair project here.
Japanese soba noodles are a made from buckwheat flour, and are also one of the most popular noodles you might encounter in Japanese cooking.
Lo mein noodles are one of the more well-known and commonly used types of egg noodles (more about those in a second). The big difference between lo mein and chow mein comes down to the cooking method. Unlike chow mein—which youd briefly soak to soften—lo mein noodles are cooked in boiling water until just firm.
Are yakisoba and chow mein noodles the same?
What are the different Chinese noodles?