CHEAT! / Step-By-Step: Japanese Yakisoba (Fried Noodles 焼きそば)

I’ll be honest with every person on this Earth – I totally live off expired food. And I love it.

Before you start frothing at the mouth and boycotting TummyTroll, let me qualify by my statement by elaborating that “expired food” in this context doesn’t refer to slimy rotten eggs or maggot-infested meat. I am talking about the price-discounted items that are being sold off cheap by supermarkets at the end of the day to clear their stocks. If anything, most of these food are still fresh and good if you know how to choose your good eggs from the rotten eggs!

And for my expertise in this area I should have received a PhD from the University of Life a long, long time ago. Nobody seems to acknowledge my highly coveted skills and talents without first laughing out loud. We’ll see who has the last laugh. Ha ha ha. Anyway, this will be the start of an All Reduced section under the CHEAT! recipes – A godsend to poor students like us I suppose! For your information, this All Reduced meal only costs approximately 45p per person, including the seasoning but excluding the Bonito flakes and Seaweed sheets. It is seriously this affordable!

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Ingredients for Japanese Yakisoba: Serves 3-4

Japanese Yakisoba
300g yakisoba noodles (we didn’t have that so we used free-range egg noodles)
100g beansprouts
75g cabbage, julienned
175g carrots, julienned
1 small onion, julienned
Garlic roughly chopped, a handful
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil (or more)

For the Yakisoba Sauce
2 tablespoons Oyster Sauce
2 tablespoons Light Soya Sauce
1 tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
1 tablespoon Sugar
Pepper, a dash
Worcestershire/Okonomiyaki Sauce, to taste (Optional)

For the Garnish
Dried Bonito Flakes – More on this later
Roasted Seaweed Sheets
Spring Onions, finely chopped

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Step-By-Step: Japanese Yakisoba

Step 1: Getting the sauce right

I barely realized that I didn’t even mention anything about Japanese Yakisoba because I’d been rambling non-stop about loving reduced-price food. My apologies.

… Anyway, the Japanese Yakisoba is really the Japanese take on Chinese fried noodles! This is why all the seasoning used can be obtained from a Chinese kitchen. Some recipes call for Okonomiyaki sauce or Worcestershire sauce to thicken up the sauce. We thought ours was fine without it!

It comes out a little greasy and a little salty. Good for frying noodles! No fixed recipe here – Tune the flavours to whatever you like best!

Step 2: Frying the noodles

This is a lot of garlic – Without it, yakisoba will never be the same!

At medium-low heat, stir fry until golden brown.

Can’t say this enough but garlic burns really easily so be patient when frying – Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat too fast. Your chopped garlic will transform into carcinogenic black bombs way faster than you’d like them to.

Be serious when you cook. Be demure even when you stir-fry. Be a #tumtianhui.

Throw in the julienned carrots and cabbage after garlic turns a light golden hue. Switch to medium-high. After 5 minutes throw in the beansprouts.

Then the noodles. Turn to the highest heat setting available. Noodles must be fried at high heat! If not they turn mushy and soft – We want them to be “QQ”. In other words, to have a bouncy and lively texture.

Add the Yakisoba sauce in after a good 5 minutes.

This is what happens when you spend too much time with the books. You start to look disoriented even when cooking.

Step 3: Garnish – Arguably the most important step!

What is Japanese food without seaweed?

Cut, shred or crush into desired garnish size. We weren’t too particular.

The real star of the dish – Dried Bonito flakes! For the uninitiated, these are made from a kind of skip-jack fish called Bonito which are widely available in Japan. The intense umami (the recently discovered sixth taste) lends the otherwise common fried noodles a distinct Japanese flavour.

And for the record, these look like wood shavings but they’re delicious and irreplaceable. When we were throwing these onto the fried noodles, a Brit mate’s boyfriend was looking at us with fear-laced eyes. I think I know what he was thinking, but I forgot to explain to him later — As varied as Asian cuisine can be, we hadn’t resorted to eating wooden shavings, haha!

And some finely chopped spring onions. Makes for a great Japanese Yakisoba! Oishii!

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Note: We made a simple fuss-free vegetarian version here but feel free to add the chicken or pork if you so desire! Strips of chicken thigh or pork loin should do the trick.

Posted by #phangchewfat

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