For some spicy warmth as you wait on spring, turn your farmstead kitchen into a Japanese noodle house. If you still have bags of peppers and broccoli in the freezer like we do, stave off freezer burn and transform them into a healthy and delicious mid-winter Japanese pan-fried noodles. Perhaps use up those remaining carrots and garlic bulbs, too. The sweetness of the caramelized soba or udon noodles mixed in with all your vegetables make for an Asian treat you can make in your own kitchen.
Unfortunately, buying the soba or udon noodles can get a bit confusing because the name can show up differently on packages—udon noodles can sometimes be labeled soba. Plus, these noodles might not be a staple at your local supermarket, so stock up next time you’re in a big-city Asian-food store. Don’t worry, regardless of the type of Japanese noodles, this stir-fry tastes great, especially in the middle of the winter.
If we can find them in an Asian-food store, we prefer to use soba noodles, made from buckwheat flour, for the health factor. Udon noodles are traditionally made with white flour and don’t have the brown or creamy color of soba noodles. Soba noodles also taste a bit nutty and are chewier and thicker. (For the record, the recipe photo features a Japanese Pan Noodles Stir-fry made with authentic udon wheat noodles, not the thicker soba buckwheat noodles).
If you don’t have all the ingredients for the recipe below in your pantry, make substitutions with what you do have. For the sweet soy sauce, you can thoroughly dissolve one part brown sugar into three parts regular soy sauce. If you like more heat, double your use of the chili-garlic sauce. We regularly add other vegetables we have from our gardens to the stir-fry, as well, such green beans, cauliflower or snow peas. Feel free to perform your own flavor experiments.
Recipe: Japanese Pan-fried Noodles
Yield: 6 servings
- 1 pound Japanese soba or udon noodles
- 1 T. sesame oil
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 cup julienne-cut carrots, julienne
- 1 T. canola oil
- 1/2 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced (optional)
- 1 cup julienne-cut peppers, julienne
- 1 T. minced fresh ginger
- 2 cloves, garlic, minced
- 2 T. mirin
- 3 T. sweet soy sauce
- 1 T. chili-garlic sauce
- 3 T. fresh cilantro (optional)
- 1 tsp. black sesame seeds (optional)
Cook soba or udon noodles in boiling water until al dente, following package cooking instructions (usually about 4 minutes). Drain cooked noodles and place in cold water. Drain noodles again, toss lightly with sesame oil, and let sit while preparing vegetables.
Briefly blanch broccoli and carrots in steamer or boiling water, then set aside. If using defrosted broccoli, skip this step for broccoli.
In large sauté pan or wok over medium to high heat, add canola oil and sauté shiitake mushrooms until lightly browned.
To hot sauté pan or wok, add carrots, broccoli, peppers, ginger, garlic, mirin, sweet soy sauce and chil-garlic sauce to stir-fry, mixing frequently. After three to four minutes, add noodles and pan-fry until caramelized and mixed well with vegetables.
Serve in individual bowls and sprinkle with cilantro and black sesame seeds.
Savoring the good life,