Everyone has their go-to when it comes to yakisoba, Japanese fried noodles. It happens to be one of those dishes where you have people arguing over what actually goes into it (cabbage, meat, chilli paste), what goes on top of it (seaweed, mayonnaise), and what goes around it, that is, the sauce ingredients (oyster sauce, ketchup, honey, Worchestershire sauce). And of course, there is the authenticity of it all;- striking a balance between adaptations of this seemingly simple dish using local ingredients, and of what might appear sacrilegious to the humble street vendors striking their teppan-s away in Japan.
To be perfectly honest though, I don’t have a go-to recipe myself, opting instead to go with the flow, as they say, using whatever I have in the pantry, hardly giving a measure of what goes into the skillet. Some days it’s dark soy sauce, some days it’s #meatlessmondays, and some days I add in bell peppers and red chilli flakes;- it’s about as adventurous an amateur cook can claim to be, with each one tasting a little different than the previous. This one here is currently my favourite rendition; the oyster sauce lends a sweet earthy tang, subtly juxtaposed with the salty soy sauce, while the chilli adds just enough warmth to the otherwise monotoned dish.
1 packet of soba noodles (about 200g – 250g)
1 red chilli, sliced (optional)
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 yellow onion, sliced finely
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1 chicken breast, sliced thinly or diced
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
a dash of white pepper
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, and cook the soba noodles according to the instructions on the packet. Rinse under cold tap water, drain and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
In a large skillet, heat a little olive oil, and sautée the garlic, chilli and onion till the onion softens and becomes translucent.
Add in the chicken pieces, and cook over low heat till it loses its colour.
Stir in the carrot and cabbage, and cook till the carrots soften a little, about 3 minutes.
Toss in the cooked soba noodles, followed by the prepared sauce. Mix to combine until well-coated. Serve immediately.