Although you may have tried Yaki Udon or Yakisoba in one form or another, there are a few fixed characteristics that give each noodle dish its unique taste and texture.
Is there a difference between Yaki Udon and Yakisoba? Yaki udon is a classic Japanese noodle dish that combines thick wheat noodles with stir-fried vegetables, protein, and a rich sauce. There is also a dish called yakisoba, which has thinner noodles and a delicious sauce that makes it equally versatile.
This noodle dish is more than just noodles and sauces! Read on for more information.
What Is Yaki Udon?
The yaki udon noodle dish was invented in the 1950s, shortly after the Second World War.
In this noodle dish, as in many others, whatever ingredients are available at the time were used.
There was a lack of food after the war, so most people had to rely on basic food ingredients to feed themselves. These included wheat, rice, basic proteins, vegetables, and noodles, of course.
Even though food was scarce in Japan, flavor was abundant – and boys, did people use their woks!
Originally popularized as a street food, yaki udon is a delicious combination of vegetables, thick noodles, and a special sauce.
Because thick, bouncy noodles were paired with a sweet, savory, tangy sauce, this dish quickly became a household favorite!
It was this popularity that led to a global range of yaki udon versions and customizations.
Characteristics Of Yaki Udon
You can learn more about yaki udon by checking out the following characteristics!
Udon with yaki flavor balances savory, umami, sweet, and tangy flavors.
This sauce is made with flavorful ingredients like mirin (rice cooking wine), dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, etc.
Additionally, the noodles themselves have an earthy, nutty flavor that complements the rest of the ingredients.
Duck fat adds a layer of complexity to this noodle dish and gives it even more definition – yaki udon can be cooked in any kind of oil.
The flavor of yaki udon is enhanced and rounded by MSG, just like many other noodle dishes.
In addition to chicken fat, chicken broth, and other types of broth, you can add flavor to the dish by using them.
We highly recommend trying traditional yaki udon if you want a change from regular chow mein or other simple noodle dishes.
The emphasis of yaki udon is crunchy (but appropriately sauteed) vegetables, caramelized meat, golden-brown ginger, and garnishes, as well as soft, chewy, thick, and bouncy noodles.
When compared to other simple noodle dishes, yaki udon stands out because of its unique combination of crunchy and chewy ingredients.
As well as a supremely delicious and pleasing mouthfeel, this dish can also be tweaked in infinite ways to suit your tastes and textures!
To give each bite of yaki udon a light crispiness and lip-smacking flavor, many people garnish it with crispy bonito flakes and diced raw vegetables.
A lot of ways can be prepared with yaki udon since its main ingredients are thick noodles and tangy sauce!
It is possible to cook the traditional recipe of yaki udon in under 20 minutes, including the preparation time.
With just a mixture of protein and vegetables, it can be made fancy by adding exotic ingredients, or it can be prepared street-style by adding just delicious proteins.
It is possible to prepare yaki udon sauce in a number of different ways, such as by substituting palm sugar or any other unprocessed sugar for regular sugar.
Yaki udon noodles can also be found in any Asian store that sells fresh noodles. If you want simple and thick wheat noodles, you can make them at home or purchase them from any Asian store.
What Is Yakisoba?
A classic Japanese noodle dish invented around the same time as yaki udon is yakisoba.
A yaki soba has the meaning of wok-fried wheat noodles, and it is a combination of “yaki” and “soba,” meaning grilled or stir-fried.
There are also buckwheat noodles known as soba, but wheat noodles are always at the heart of every recipe for yakisoba.
As with yaki udon, yakisoba is a popular Japanese street food.
Often referred to as the “mac and cheese of Japan”, many people consider this noodle dish to be a form of comfort food.
Despite its similarities to yaki udon, this noodle dish distinguishes itself by its sauce and thinner noodles.
The wheat noodles used in yakisoba are chewier and less dense than those used in yaki udon.
This particular noodle dish is designed to highlight the umami flavors of the ingredients and provide a deeper flavor using minimal condiments.
Let’s talk about the characteristics of yakisoba before we list the ingredients for each dish.
Characteristics Of Yakisoba
Yakisoba has the following characteristics that make it unique!
There are three main sauces in yakisoba sauce: Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and oyster sauce.
A simple table sugar is often used alongside these ingredients – and ketchup is sometimes added!
While you may have reservations about using ketchup in traditional Japanese cooking, most yakisoba recipes include ketchup simply because it adds a deeper level of flavor.
Traditional yakisoba recipes include chicken broth, sake, scallions, and crispy vegetables, but the three sauces above are enough to create a deliciously addictive dish!
There is no real difference in the textural notes between yakisoba and yaki udon – the only difference comes from the noodle type.
Most people enjoy thinner noodles because they provide a much better mouthfeel – this factor also adds to yakisoba’s overall addictiveness.
Vegetables have more or less the same texture as noodles.
In the same way that yaki udon is prepared and served, you can expect yakisoba to have the same garnishes, condiments, and even sides.
A delicious broth can also be served with yakisoba, but most of the time, the noodle dish is served dry with some sauce.
Salt-lemon yakisoba, for instance, adds zing to the noodles along with a deep umami flavor thanks to the chicken broth.
Also, yakisoba is an excellent dish when served with kimchi! Pork and kimchi are powerful and popular combinations that can give yakisoba an entirely new flavor and texture.
In fact, you can even make this humble recipe into something fit for a top restaurant by using fancy ingredients!
You can serve the noodles with bonito flakes or other flavoring ingredients after combining multiple types of meat, quail eggs, and thick vegetables.
For the noodle dish:
2 packets of udon noodles (13 oz)
2½ cups stir fry vegetables, chopped (bok choy, cabbage, carrot, onions)
2 stalks of scallions, cut 2 inches long
½ lb ground meat (beef, chicken, turkey, pork, or shrimp)
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced or finely chopped
2 tsp fresh garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 tbsp avocado oil
For the noodle sauce:
2½ tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp mirin
2 tsp brown sugar
½ tsp rice wine vinegar
Begin with the sauce. Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Cook the yaki udon noodles according per the package instructions.
If you want to get the most out of this dish, don’t overcook the noodles!
While the noodles are cooking, heat a wok and add any high-smoking-point oil. By moving the wok around, you may spread the heated oil around.
Remove the oil once the entire surface has been covered. Heat the wok again after wiping it down with a cloth. Prepare to begin cooking by adding extra oil!
To begin, add the ginger and garlic, finely chopped or minced. Cook until golden brown, stirring frequently.
Now add the meat and heat until it is lightly caramelized.
When the meat is almost done, mix in the vegetables (save the scallions) for a few minutes.
Maintain the crunchiness of the vegetables! If you overcook them, they will get mushy very soon.
Add the noodles (without breaking them up), then season with salt (to taste), pepper, and a pinch of MSG.
Add the sauce and scallions now. While cooking, gently fold in the ingredients to mix — this should only take around 2-3 minutes.
When everything is combined, rapidly serve the noodles hot!
Making your own yaki udon noodles at home is recommended if you want to go the gourmet route. The dough may be created with wheat flour, water, and salt.
You can also choose your preferred stir-fried veggie combo. You will have far more control over the dish’s flavor and textures in this method.
Yaki udon and yakisoba are both very addictive noodle recipes that stem from the same philosophy: make the most of simple materials! Now that you’ve learned the basic distinctions between the two, here are some follow-up questions we thought you might have.
Is seasoning the wok important when making yaki udon or yakisoba?
Yes, according to tradition, you must always season the wok before stir-frying. By seasoning the wok, you can cook everything evenly and with the most flavor without any of the components sticking. These noodle recipes could be prepared in an unseasoned wok, but the outcome will be very different and flavorless!