This tasty yaki udon is made with thick udon noodles, chicken breast, onion, bell peppers and cabbage stir fried in a delicious mixture of garlic, butter and soy sauce. It's easy to make and only takes 15 minutes!
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What Is Yaki udon?
Yaki udon (焼うどん) is a type of Japanese stir fry dish made with thick udon noodles. There are many different ways to make yaki udon, you can use different meats, different vegetables and even different sauces, there's no rule!
In my recipe, I flavour the dish with soy sauce, butter and garlic.
Yakisoba VS Yakiudon
Yaki (焼き) is the Japanese word for "fry" and appears in the names of lots of fried or grilled dishes, for example takoyaki (fried octopus balls), yaki onigiri (fried rice ball) and yakisoba (fried noodles). In fact, when I think of Japanese stir fried noodles, the first thing that comes to mind is yakisoba. But how is yakisoba different to yaki udon?
Yakisoba and yaki udon use many of the same ingredients, the most obvious difference is the type of noodles used in the dish. Yakisoba is an iconic street food dish made with ramen style noodles called "chukamen" or "chuka soba" whereas yaki udon is of course, made with udon noodles.
However, it's not only the type of noodles that set the dishes apart.
Yaki udon sauce
The biggest difference between yakisoba and yaki udon is the type of sauce used in the dish.
On the other hand, yaki udon is more commonly fried in a soy sauce base and then drizzled with Japanese mayonnaise. Of course, this is not a strict rule and there are many different types of yaki udon, it also depends on the region and family too. (Check out my shio lemon shrimp yaki udon here!)
Butter Shoyu is a Japanese Favourite
In this recipe, I use Kikkoman soy sauce, unsalted butter and garlic as a base for my yaki udon sauce. It's simple, accessible and delicious! What's not to love?
Did you know that the mixture of soy sauce and butter is one of the most loved condiments combos in Japan? I mean you can find soy sauce and butter flavoured things everywhere, vegetable side dishes, meat recipes like butter shoyu steak or even snacks such as like potato chips.
Adding garlic to the golden combo makes it even more golden in my opinion!
Yaki udon is a quick and easy dish to make, but why not make it even quicker, easier and even more delicious with these simple but effective tips!
Cut the vegetables to similar sizes
The cabbage in yaki udon is cut roughly as it's already thin and cooks quickly, but for the rest of the vegetables, I recommend cutting them into thin slices in similar sizes. Thinner slices means faster cooking time and if the pieces are uniform, they'll cook at the same rate.
You'll notice that there is both red and green bell peppers on my chopping board, that's just for extra colour. Use any colour you like!
Cutting the vegetables to the same size and thickness will ensure quick and even cooking.
Fry the chicken in garlic-infused butter
The first step in the cooking process is to melt the butter and add the garlic. This will help infuse the flavours so essentially, you will make your own garlic butter. The next step is to add the chicken. Not only does this give the chicken plenty of time to cook all the way through, but the surface will pick up the flavour of the garlic butter. Delicious!
Cooking the chicken in the garlic-infused butter will help the chicken stand out in the dish!
Half the soy sauce and add it at different times
You might find it strange to see that I use half of the soy sauce when I add the vegetables and the other half when I add the noodles, but it's not a mistake! Basically I want to flavour the vegetables and noodles separately.
If you add all the soy sauce in the beginning, the flavour becomes lost and doesn't reach the noodles. If you add it all at the end, the vegetables don't have time to soak up the flavour and everything just becomes jumbled together. I swear by this technique of adding the soy sauce at different times when necessary!
Add half of the soy sauce when you add the vegetables and the other half when you add the noodles. This will ensure the best flavour all round!
Yaki udon is typically made with the following:
- Meat (usually pork)
- Udon noodles
However there's no reason why you can't experiment with other ingredients. Here are a few ideas:
- Bell peppers
The only thing you need to keep in mind is the water content, if the water content in the new ingredient is too high, this can cause the other vegetables to start steaming and become soggy, so be careful!
Check out some regional yaki udon dishes below for some inspiration.
National Yaki Udon Summit (Annual Event)
I have to admit that one of my favourite things about the food communities in Japan is they make everything sound like a big deal and create competitions nationwide. Yaki udon is no exception.
As I mentioned before, there is no real rule about what to include in yaki udon (except, of course, udon noodles) and now many different regions across Japan have created their own regional versions of yaki udon.
Here are a few examples:
- Iwatemachi yaki udon (岩手町焼きうどん) : Iwate Prefecture - Pork, cabbage, carrots and udon noodles stir fried and seasoned with salt and white pepper
- Hatogayashi Sauce yaki udon (鳩ケ谷市ソース焼きうどん） : Saitama Prefecture - Pork, cabbage, beansprouts, onion, carrot and udon noodles fried in a Worcestershire based sauce.
- Kameyama Miso yaki udon (亀山みそ焼きうどん) : Mie Prefecture - Pork, cabbage, onions and udon noodles stir fried in a red miso sauce.
- Horumon yaki udon (ホルモン焼きうどん) : Hyogo Prefecture - Yakiudon made with "horumon" offal and stir fried in salt, pepper and soy sauce.
- Kim Toma yaki udon (キムトマ焼きうどん) : Gunma Prefecture - Udon with kimchi and tinned tomatoes
And since 2011, there has been an event called the "National Yaki Udon Summit (全国焼うどんサミット)" where yaki udon recipes from different regions compete.
It might come as a surprise that this even is a pretty big deal, Japanese people take food very seriously you know!
Check out our video for How to make homemade chicken yaki udonPrint
Yaki means to fry, grill or cook and udon is a type of thick Japanese noodle made from wheat flour.
The biggest difference between the two is the type of sauces and noodles used in the dish. Yaki udon is made with udon noodles stir fried in a soy sauce base whereas yakisoba is made with ramen type "chuka" noodles fried in a Worcestershire sauce base. The choice of meat and vegetables are often the same, but there isn't a strict rule.
Even though the ingredients are similar, the difference sauces make yaki udon and yakisoba taste very different.
Yaki udon sauce is usually made with soy sauce as the base. You can add other condiments to flavour it to your taste, in my recipe I use garlic and butter with soy sauce.
Udon noodles are made from wheat flour.