Yaki udon, with its thick and chewy noodles, super savory sauce, crisp vegetables, and slices of seared pork is my idea of pure comfort food. It’s super easy to put together and I can’t imagine a better one pan meal.
I LOVE yaki udon. It reminds me of long lazy nights, huge piles of noodles steaming on a flat top grill, and the sounds of happy people chatting and enjoying festival food in Japan.
Yaki udon, literally translated, is fried udon. Thick and chewy udon noodles are fried with pork, cabbage, onions, and carrots, in a slightly sweet, super savory soy and mirin based sauce. It’s usually topped off with seaweed and bonito flakes that gently dance in the heat of the noodles.
It’s almost just the same as yakisoba, but with udon noodles. Yaki udon is super popular at Japanese festivals, at izakaya (Japanese pubs), and just about anytime.
If you asked me to choose between yakiudon and yakisoba, I would choose yakiudon every time, hands down! Udon noodles are a joy to eat: thick and chewy and SO satisfying. Mike and I love udon so much that we went on an udon pilgrimage to the birthplace of udon, Kagawa, Japan. They don’t have yakiudon there, but they do have the best udon in Japan. Udon is truly the best noodle to make in saucy stir fry. The noodles soak up so much flavor and hold up without getting soggy. With yakisoba sometimes you get sad broken noodles. You’ll never have that problem with udon. Udon noodles are hearty, thick, and a joy to eat!
You’re just 5 minutes away from pure noodle satisfaction.
Frozen udon is the best: it’s practically instant and takes on all the flavors of whatever you’re cooking it with. We always have a pack (or five) of frozen udon bricks in the freezer. Of course, you could use those instant udon packs, that come shrink-wrapped, but if you want udon on another level, head to your local Asian grocery store, take a peek in the freezer and do yourself a favor and buy the frozen udon.
Frozen udon is sold in bricks, with usually 5 bricks in a package. They’re super easy to prepare: just thaw and go. And best of all, most of the frozen udon that’s sold in North America is actually imported from Japan. We often see brands sold here that are the same as what we buy at the grocery store in Tokyo. They taste infinitely better than the shelf-stable cryovac udon. Basically, look for the words Sanuki Udon somewhere on the package.
Dashi powder is the quickest way to add dashi flavor to any dish. Essentially, it’s a flavor booster. You can buy dashi powder in the Asian grocery store or online. It adds a bunch of flavor and umami. If you don’t have any on hand, you can substitute it with chicken stock powder, but if you do, your udon may end up saltier than if you use dashi.
Yaki udon is a super customizable noodle dish. Make it your own!
If you’re looking for other udon-inspiration, try these recipes:
And if you want, check out our trip to the birthplace of udon.
Super easy and pure Japanese comfort food.
Soak the frozen udon in a bowl of warm water, loosening to make sure the strands of noodles are separate. Drain and set aside. Mix together the soy sauce, dashi powder, and mirin (or sugar) with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat up the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced pork and cook until the pork is seared and cooked through, 2-4 minutes.
Add the onion and sauté, stirring, until soft, but not brown. Stir in the cabbage and carrot, cooking until soft, but still a bit crunchy, 1-2 minutes.
Add the drained udon noodles and bowl of sauce. Toss everything together, over medium-high heat, until the sauce reduces and coats the noodles, 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and season with salt and pepper. Finish with sliced nori and bonito flakes, if using.
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 149
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 3.2g20%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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