Two Years Ago: Baked Pumpkin Spice Granola
Yakisoba is a Japanese dish that reminds me of fried rice because it's a great way to use up leftover bit of meats and vegetables. At its most basic, the dish is made up of noodles, veggies, and sauce. After that, the specifics are up to you: pork, chicken, or vegetarian versions are all good, and the vegetables can be whatever you want although cabbage, carrots and onions are common. I added a little caramelized broccoli for crunch and nutrition but that's just me.
The sauce is a little peculiar - ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and a touch of hot sauce - but somehow it works. Yakisoba sauce is traditionally slightly spicy and slightly sweet but the sweet part didn't appeal to me so I left out the mirin or sugar. Again, that's up to you. Just go easy on the hot sauce until you taste the overall result - you can always add more at the table. I read something online that leads me to believe the combination of ketchup and Worcestershire is a substitution that's made to approximate the taste of Japanese Tonkatsu sauce, which you likely won't find anywhere except an Asian market and which virtually no one has at home (except me, I'm sort of embarrassed to say). Even though I had a big bottle of Tonkatsu in my refrigerator I made the recipe as written to be sure I understood the flavors, which were excellent.
Be sure to use a Dutch oven to stir-fry everything because you start with a giant pile of veggies (they cook down a lot) and end with piling the noodles in there too. Even a large saute pan is too small, as I discovered the hard way. (Envision cabbage, carrots and onions all over the cooktop.) Note the switch from the saute pan to the Dutch oven below.
You want to saute the veggies until they've wilted and started to soften, but still retain some crunch. Speaking of, I've discovered the bags of shredded carrots in the store are perfect for salads and stir-frys because they're shredded to just the right size.
A couple of other tips: it's easier and more thorough to wash cabbage after you slice it, then just spin it dry in a salad spinner. Same thing applies to leeks. The second tip is to peel and shred (or thinly slice) broccoli stems for your stir frys rather than throwing the stems away. A regular peeler and a shredding peeler are perfect for the task.
Yakisoba isn't fancy, but it's fast, delicious and a great way to use up leftovers. And it makes a great lunch the next day.
2 pork chops or 1 chicken breast, thinly sliced (or 1-2 cups cooked pork or chicken), optional
1 stalk of broccoli, florets cut off and stem peeled and shredded
1 small head Napa cabbage, sliced
2 medium carrots, grated (or ½ of a 10-oz bag of shredded carrots)
1 small yellow onion, sliced
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 (3 oz) packages ramen noodles (seasoning packages discarded)
1 tsp sesame oil
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon sriracha or other hot sauce, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons mirin, or a bit of sugar (optional)
Heat a large pot of water to boiling for the noodles. When boiling, add the noodles and cook just until tender, 2-3 minutes. Drain thoroughly and toss with 1 teaspoon sesame oil to avoid sticking. Set aside.
In the meantime, put the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and sauté, stirring, for 30 seconds. If your pork or chicken is raw, add it now and sauté for 3-5 minutes until cooked through. (If your meat is already cooked, it will be added later.) Remove the cooked meat from the pan. Add broccoli florets and allow to brown for 1-2 minutes, then add the remainder of the vegetables (cabbage, carrots, onion and shredded broccoli stem). Stir and cook until wilted, add a few drops of water as needed to prevent sticking, 5-10 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and sriracha sauce. Taste and adjust with additional hot sauce or the mirin or sugar for a slight sweetness as desired.
When the vegetables are wilted, add the meat and sauce to the pot and stir well. Add the noodles and stir to coat with sauce, allowing the noodles to cook in the sauce for a minute until the sauce is mostly absorbed.
Serve with additional hot sauce on the side.