A delicious and versatile one-pan supper, this yaki udon with pork and vegetables may be made with anything you have on hand. Switch out the pork with chicken, beef, or tofu, and use whatever vegetables you have. Remember the first step, which you won’t often find in recipes.
WHAT IS YAKI UDON?
Yaki udon literally means “fried udon” in Japanese. Udon noodles, shredded pork, julienned veggies, soy sauce, and mirin are stir-fried to make this dish.
The only real difference between this and yakisoba is the noodles.
Udon noodles are so thicker than other types of noodles that you can tell them apart at a glance. Udon noodles are typically eaten in a soup, but their thickness makes them a fantastic choice for stir-fries.
In fact, Shanghai Cu Chao Mian, or “thick fried noodles,” is a meal quite similar to this found in Chinese cuisine. The noodles’ thickness makes them pleasantly chewy and allows them to absorb flavorful sauces and seasonings.
WHAT TYPE OF NOODLES SHOULD YOU BUY?
When it comes to purchasing udon noodles from an Asian supermarket, you have three choices:
- Udon noodles, available in the fridge section, are freshly made (usually in vacuum-sealed packaging)
- Fresh udon noodles.
- Dry udon noodles
However, you may be shocked to hear that frozen udon noodles work best for this dish. Compared to their frozen counterparts, refrigerated udon noodles easily break when stir-fried.
If you can’t find frozen udon noodles, dry ones are your next best bet; just remember that their texture isn’t nearly as “bouncy” as the frozen kind. They also tend to be leaner and have a slightly irregular form.
What is the takeaway from this? You can find udon noodles in the frozen department of any Asian grocery store. If you’ve exhausted your other options, head to the dry noodle section.
DON’T MISS THE FIRST STEP
This recipe includes an extra step you might not find in traditional Japanese yaki udon dishes. But it truly enhances the flavor of these noodles.
The butter, garlic, and dashi powder are melted before the stir-frying begins. The udon noodles are then fried in the garlic dashi butter until they are slightly browned and crunchy. Once that is done, the remaining steps of the recipe’s preparation can begin.
As a bouillon-like seasoning, dashi powder (also known as dashi granules) is comparable to chicken powder. Dried kelp (kombu) and bonito flakes (katsuobushi) are the main ingredients in this powdered form of dashi stock (dried, smoked bonito flakes). It’s been getting a lot of use lately, especially from Kaitlin, who has been whipping up delicious bowls of seaweed egg drop soup in a flash.
An immediate smokey umami scent is released upon contact between the concentrated dashi powder and the butter. The butter softens the flavor, while the garlic gives it depth. By frying the noodles beforehand, they are “sealed,” making them easier to stir-fry in the dish. Do believe me on this.
Ready, set, the kitchen!
- 1 lb. of frozen udon noodles (or 200g dry udon noodles)
- 2 tbsp. of butter (30g)
- 1 clove of garlic (minced)
- 2 tsp. of dashi powder
- 1 tbsp. of oil
- 4 oz. of pork shoulder (julienned)
- 4 oz. of oyster or shiitake mushrooms (thinly sliced)
- 2 tbsp. of mirin
- 2 cups of cabbage (shredded)
- 1 medium-sized carrot (julienned)
- 1/8 tsp. of black pepper
- 2 tbsp. of low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. of water
- 2 scallions (julienned)
- To get started, get a big pot of water boiling. Toss in some udon noodles. Loosen them in the boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. In the case of dry noodles, prepare them as directed on the package. Then, drain again after rinsing with cold water to remove any remaining starch. Leave aside.
- Over medium heat, set up a big Dutch oven, non-stick pot, or cast-iron frying pan. Add the butter once the pan is hot. Blend in the dashi granules and garlic once the butter has melted. Add the dashi and let it simmer for 30 seconds or until it begins to dissolve. The butter is ready when it turns a golden brown color.
- Then, add the drained noodles and toss them in the butter until they are evenly coated. Five minutes over medium heat will dry the noodles and give them a subtle crunch. Take out and set aside.
- Throw the pork shoulder in the pot with a tablespoon of oil. Crisp up the pork in a skillet. Caramelize the mushrooms with the mirin and sauté them in.
- Combine the water, soy sauce, cabbage, carrot, and pepper. Stir-fry the vegetables until they are wilted, then add the noodles and scallions and cook for an additional minute. Add another minute to the stir-frying process. Serve!