Using Up Those Leftovers, Japanese Style: Yakisoba Noodles

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Yakisoba noodles, available in the refrigerated case of pretty much every grocery and convenience store in Japan

Living in Japan has altered my kitchen staples, and one addition is yakisoba noodles. I usually keep a package on hand in the fridge. Each package contains three servings of noodles individually wrapped and three packets of seasoning mix (which I usually skip).

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Another staple: kaeshi. The recipe for kaeshi is simple: combine 3/4 cup soy sauce, 3 Tb. of sugar, and 3 Tb. of mirin (sweet rice cooking wine) in a saucepan and heat until dissolved, then cool and store in the fridge. I put kaeshi in a squeeze bottle, which makes it easy to use while cooking. Kaeshi is called a “mother sauce” in Japanese cuisine, very similar to the stocks and sauces at the root of French cooking. If you’ve ever over-seasoned sauteed mushrooms or fried rice with too much soy sauce, then you need kaeshi in your life. The sweetness of the mirin and sugar balance the salty bitterness of soy sauce perfectly.

This past weekend I decided to cook up a quick yakisoba lunch with whatever leftovers I could find. I scrounged up a handful of kale, half an ear of cooking corn, a few bites of beef ribs, and half an onion.

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The beauty of yakisoba noodles is that they go straight in the skillet with no pre-boiling. I threw away the seasoning packet and reached for the kaeshi instead. Then I cooked up the veggies and meat….

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…threw in the noodles and a few squeezes of kaeshi….

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…and lunch was ready!

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My dining companion enjoyed one of his new favorites, cold soba noodles with dipping sauce.

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One thought on “Using Up Those Leftovers, Japanese Style: Yakisoba Noodles

  1. From Hawaii my Japanese “mom” and my best friend always cooked for me shoyu chicken – just like your kaeshi but you have to add equal parts water to the shoyu and mirin. So, you simmer skinless chicken thighs or breasts in 1 cup shoyu, 1 cup mirin, 1 or 2 cups of water and about 1/4 cup sugar. Then you cook your chicken in the liquid for maybe 20 or 30 minutes until done and then you can eat it with rice. If you want to make a bigger pot you can increase amounts – you know in Hawaii you buy shoyu and mirin by the gallon! Sometimes I use the yakisoba packet but only about half of one for all 3 of us and only half of the noodles – we can’t eat that much.

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