The Best Yaki Udon – やき うどん
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My favorite yaki udon recipe takes less than 10 minutes to make! The udon noodles are stir fried in a mixture of butter and dashi powder and topped with bonito flakes and fresh scallions. It’s absolutely delicious!
There’s nothing better than Japanese food.
Yeah – I know that’s a bold statement.
But for me, whenever I’m in Japan all I can think about is eating. If I’m not browsing through my mother’s fridge, I’m either at the convenience store filling my basket with bentos and more sweets than I can handle, or walking down the streets of Tokyo looking at windows filled with plastic foods. It’s heaven for foodies!
Yaki udon is one of those dishes you can find everywhere in Japan. It’s cheap comfort food sold at izakayas (Japanese pubs), convenience stores, and family restaurants. It’s a dish I grew up eating because udon is my mother’s favorite type of noodle (mine is soba). She often made it for lunch, topped with sliced cabbage and carrots, almost like yakisoba.
My yaki udon is a lazy version of it – only 7 ingredients and 9 minutes of your time are needed.
Let me show you how to make it.
What are udon noodles?
Udon (うどん) is a thick noodle made from wheat flour. Frequently seen in Japanese soups – or served alongside dishes like tempura – these noodles are typically quite chewy and much thicker than other Japanese noodles like ramen and soba.
One of my favorite aspects about eating udon is that, in Japan, you will find preparations that match the season. For example, in the hot summer months, cold dishes like bukkake udon ( ぶっかけ うどん) and zaru udon ( ざる うどん) are served with light summery broths. A great way to beat the heat!
However, in the winter months, you can expect to be served more hearty and warming preparations like curry udon and nabeyaki udon (鍋焼き うどん).
Yaki udon, on the other hand, has no season. It’s a simple noodle stir fry that can be served year-round. It’s simple, quick, and delicious.
Ingredients for Yaki Udon
There are only 7 ingredients needed for this recipe:
- Udon noodles: You can use frozen, fresh, or dry noodles to make yaki udon. I recommend using either fresh or frozen udon noodles if you can, as the texture is thicker and more chewy.
- Butter: Salted butter or you can use vegan butter as well.
- Dashi powder: Dashi powder is a powder made from a mixture of dried bonito flakes, sardines, sometimes other types of fish, and kelp. It has a pleasant fish taste and is packed with umami. The better the dashi you buy, the more complex your dishes will taste.
- Soy sauce: Butter and soy sauce is a very popular combination in Japan. Something magical happens when the two ingredients mix – it’s the perfect marriage of buttery, salty, umami, and earthy.
- Bonito flakes: Bonito flakes, called katsuobushi in Japanese, add an extra layer of umami and absorb the flavors of the sauce so that every bite you savor is epic.
- Scallions: Chopped scallions add a refreshing taste and a nice crunch to the dish.
- Nori: I love shredding a little nori on top of yaki udon noodles! These toasted seaweed sheets have a mineral taste that pair so well with the noodles. They complete the dish and look beautiful too.
Kitchen Tools Needed
- Small to medium pot
- Medium to large frying pan
How to Make Yaki Udon
- Gather all of your ingredients.
- Fill a small or medium pot with enough water to cook the noodles, and bring to a boil.
- Add the noodles and cook them according the directions on the package. Fresh and frozen noodles usually need 2 to 3 minutes to cook, while dried udon noodles need about 4 to 6 minutes. Drain the noodles and set aside. If you are not planning to use the noodles right away, toss them in a little bit of sesame oil to prevent them from sticking together.
- Add the butter, dashi powder, and water to a frying pan over medium high heat, and stir until the butter has melted and is bubbling.
- Add the udon noodles and toss them a few times to coat evenly. Cook the noodles for 2-3 minutes, until they are soft but a little crunchy on the outside (light brown in color).
- Stir in the soy sauce, coat the noodles evenly and turn the heat off.
- Transfer the udon noodles to a plate and top with bonito flakes, chopped scallions, and nori. Serve.
Chicken yaki udon or beef yaki udon
Use 1/4 pound boneless, skinless, chicken breast, or 1/4 pound beef chuck, and thinly slice into bite size pieces.
Cook the chicken or beef in a separate pan with a little oil, and add a drizzle of soy sauce. When cooked through, turn the heat off and transfer the protein to a plate.
Set aside, follow the instructions for this recipe, and add your protein to the pan at the same time as the noodles.
Other Types of Japanese Noodles
Now, there are a ton of noodles used throughout Japanese cooking. And it can get a little confusing.
We’ve covered udon already.
But if you’ve ever wondered about udon vs ramen – or soba vs udon, this section is for you! The following should shed a tiny bit of light on the other main types of noodles used in Japanese cooking (without going overboard).
Japanese Noodle Varieties:
- Ramen (ラーメン) Ramen noodles are Chinese style wheat noodles. Made using alkeline water, these noodles typically have a firm texture and a yellowish hue. You’ll typically find them served in soups, ranging from lighter salt or soy sauce based broths – to heavier, more substantial broths like miso, or the pork-based tonkotsu.
- Soba (そば) Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour. And, aside from varying percentages of buckwheat in the manufacturing of the noodle, they tend to be quite healthy. Served hot or cold, it’s quite common for them to be served inside a soup – or dipped in a container of broth on the side.
- Sōmen (素麺) Sōmen noodles are super thin noodles made of wheat flour and vegetable oil which is used in the noodle pulling (stretching) process. Almost always served cold in warmer months, sōmen noodles are dipped in tsuyu – a chilled bonito flake based broth.
- Harusame (春雨) Also called cellophane noodles – or glass noodles – harusame translates into spring rain in Japanese. These transparent noodles are made of starch (sometimes sweet potato starch – as well as others like mung bean starch and tapioca), and have a slippery texture. Harusame is a great low calorie option when you’re craving noodles, but trying to keep it on the healthy side!
How to Store Yaki Udon
Yaki udon is very easy to store. Just put the leftovers in an airtight storage container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. I don’t recommend freezing yaki udon as the texture of the noodles may get mushy. Ultimately, it’s best to eat this dish fresh.
What to Serve with Yaki Udon
Whenever I make yaki udon, I like to serve it with a simple soup, some pickles and greens on the side. Here are some of my favorite dishes to pair with this udon stir fry:
- Vegan kimchi
- Pickled cucumber
- Nasu dengaku
- Miso soup
- Japanese coleslaw
- Iceberg lettuce with Japanese restaurant style carrot ginger dressing
Did you like this Yaki Udon Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comment section below!
The Best Yaki Udon Recipe
A delicious bowl of stir fried yaki udon tossed in dashi butter, soy and topped with scallions, nori and katsuobushi. Yaki udon is the perfect bar snack!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 minutes
- Total Time: 9 minutes
- Yield: 1 1x
- Category: Noodles
- Method: Stir frying
- Cuisine: Japanese
- 1 package fresh or frozen udon noodles (or 3 ounces dry udon noodles)
- 1 tablespoon butter (salted)
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon dashi powder
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 stalks scallions, finely chopped
- shredded nori
- bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
- Bring a pot of water to boil and add the udon noodles. Cook according to the directions on the package (usually around 2-3 minutes for fresh and frozen noodles, 4-6 minutes for dried udon). Drain well and set aside. If you are not planning to use the noodles right away, toss them in a little bit of sesame oil to prevent them from sticking together.
- In a pan over high heat, add butter, dashi, and water, and stir until the butter is bubbling.
- Add the udon noodles and toss them a few times to coat well. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the noodles are soft but slightly crunchy on the outside (light brown in color).
- Add the soy sauce, turn off the heat, and coat well.
- Transfer to a plate, and top with scallions, bonito flakes, and nori.
- Serve yaki udon immediately.
How to store leftover yaki udon: Refrigerate in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days.
Keywords: snack, lunch
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