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Yakisoba

(recipe, Marnie Henricksson)


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Introduction

Yakisoba is Japanese street food. In Tokyo, we lived on the edge of a park that hosted an annual plum-blossom festival in March. I have vivid memories of groups of neighbors gathered beneath the white blossoms and, there to feed them, the yakisoba man, decked out in his red-and-white bandanna before a huge griddle of these noodles, flipping with all his might. Served in the traditional way, yakisoba is an oily but tasty business plopped unassumingly onto a plate, with a blob of bright red pickled ginger on the side. It is made not with soba, as you might expect, but with the Chinese-style ramen noodle. My version is lighter and less oily, but very flavorful. A nice dish for a cool fall or winter day. Use fresh noodles if you can get them — sometimes you can find fresh thin wheat noodles in the health-food section of the grocery store. They cook faster than dried noodles.

Ingredients

  1. 1 lb. pork loin or pork chop meat
  2. ⅓ cup soy sauce
  3. ⅓ cup rice wine
  4. 1½ Tbsp. sugar
  5. 12 oz. Chinese wheat noodles or udon
  6. 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  7. 1 onion, thinly sliced
  8. 1 lb. napa or Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
  9. 3 carrots, grated
  10. 1 Tbsp. chopped ginger
  11. 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Steps

  1. Cut the pork into thin 3-inch slices against the grain. Combine the soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the noodles until just done, about 8 minutes once the water has returned to a boil. Drain and rinse with cold water. (The recipe can be made in advance to this point; the final assembly takes 10 to 15 minutes.)
  3. Heat the oil in a large sauté or chef's pan (with a lid) over medium-high heat. Add the onion and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the cabbage, carrot, and ginger. Stir-fry until the cabbage is wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the pork and continue stir-frying for 2 minutes. Put the noodles on top of the mixture and pour the sauce over the whole thing.
  4. Cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Lift the lid and combine the mixture with tongs so that everything is well mixed. Make sure the pork is cooked but remains tender. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with the scallions.