Yaki udon is a Japanese stir fried noodle dish that’s both tasty and easy to make. The 5-ingredient yaki udon sauce is packed with flavor, and the recipe only requires 30 minutes to prepare!
What is yaki udon?
Yaki udon is a Japanese stir fried noodle dish that combines thick wheat noodles, a soy-based sauce, and a variation of vegetables and proteins. The combination of smooth, chewy udon noodles and savory yet slightly sweet sauce forms the perfect blend of texture and flavor.
The name “yaki” comes from the Japanese word meaning “fried”, referring to the stir fry technique used in preparing the noodles. A popular late-night snack, this udon noodle dish is commonly served in Japanese festivals, pubs, and izakayas.
Ingredients you need for stir fried udon noodles
Udon noodles: We recommend using either fresh or frozen udon noodles for this yaki udon recipe. We love using “Sanuki-style” udon noodles since the texture is just perfect and it can easily be found in our Asian grocery store.
Chicken: We use chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces to make our chicken yaki udon, but you can also use other proteins of your preference.
Cornstarch and light soy sauce: The soy sauce makes an easy and tasty seasoning for the chicken, while the cornstarch helps the chicken pieces stay juicy and tender.
Cabbage: We just love the crunch and added texture from cabbage. We use Napa cabbage for this recipe.
Onions: Love the flavor, and texture they provide to this recipe!
Green onions: A great addition for extra aromatics and color.
Dark soy sauce: A must for the yaki udon sauce, this provides savory flavor and the deep color of the dish.
Oyster sauce: Adds a ton of umami and an extra oomph to the sauce!
Mirin: Adds slight sweetness and tanginess to the dish.
Brown sugar: Makes the dish feel more well-rounded by balancing out the saltiness from the dark soy sauce and oyster sauce.
Sesame oil: This one’s optional, but highly recommended! It adds the perfect nutty aroma and flavor to the dish, also giving it a shiny, glistening look!
What type of udon noodles to use
When it comes to yaki udon noodles, we always recommend using fresh ones if they’re readily available where you are. However, if you can’t find fresh ones, we recommend using frozen udon noodles to make the yaki udon.
From experience, Heiwa’s “Sanuki-style” udon noodles have great texture. You can easily find these in the freezer section of local Asian grocery stores. You don’t need to defrost it, and they usually come pre-cooked. All you need to do is put it in boiling water for a few minutes to reheat it and untangle the noodles to prepare it for stir frying.
How to make yaki udon
- Preparing the protein
In a bowl, add cubed chicken breast, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Mix until everything is well combined. Set aside to marinate.
- Preparing the udon noodles for stir frying
Bring water to a boil in a pot and cook the udon noodles according to the packaging’s instructions. For pre-cooked frozen udon noodles, put in boiling water for about 2 minutes. After about 1 minute, use a chopstick to gently untangle the noodles. Drain off water and run cold water through the noodles to stop them from cooking further. Set aside.
- Preparing the sauce mixture
To prepare the sauce mixture, combine dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, mirin, brown sugar, and sesame oil in a bowl. Set aside.
- Cooking the protein
To cook the chicken, heat 1 tbsp of canola oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add in the marinated chicken and cook for about 5 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly. Stir fry occasionally to cook evenly. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Making the yaki udon
To make yaki udon, in the same pan, heat 2 tbsp of canola oil on medium high. Add in the chopped onions and stir fry until soft and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add in the chopped cabbage and stir fry for another 3 minutes, or until soft. Make a whole in the middle of the pan by moving the onions and cabbage to the sides, and add in the udon noodles. Pour in the sauce mixture and mix well, stir frying for another 5 minutes.
- Serving the dish
Once the noodles have absorbed all the sauce, add in the chopped green onions and cooked chicken. Combine well until the green onions are soft. Remove from heat and serve.
Tips to make the best yaki udon
Handle the noodles gently. When reheating the frozen noodles in the boiling water, make sure to let the noodles in the hot water for a good minute before trying to separate them. Use chopsticks to gently untangle the noodles, but don’t force it or the noodles might break. The noodles will untangle on their own once you drain off the hot water.
Run cold water through the noodles after boiling. This will stop the noodles from cooking further and become too soft.
Cook the proteins separately. Especially if you’re using chicken breast or chicken thighs, cooking the proteins separately will make it easier for you to control the cooking level of your meat.
Run water or drizzle oil over the noodles before putting them in the pan. When noodles sit for a little while, they tend to clump together. Using water or oil can help separate the noodles and make it easier for you to stir fry the noodles.
While both are fried noodle dishes, they each use different types of noodles. Yakisoba uses soba noodles, which are made of buckwheat flour and thinner. Yaki udon uses Japanese udon noodles, which are made of wheat and thicker.
The beauty with this dish is that you can usually use whatever proteins or vegetables you have available in your pantry. But essentially, yaki udon is made of udon noodles, soy-based sauce, and a variation of your choice of vegetables and proteins.
Yes, they are made of wheat flour and water.
Yaki Udon (Stir Fried Udon Noodles)
- 500 grams udon noodles frozen
- 1 cup cabbage chopped
- 1 medium onion sliced into strips
- 1 stalk green onion cut into medium-length strips
- 2 tbsp canola oil for cooking
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 180 grams chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp canola oil for cooking
Preparing the sauce
- In a bowl, combine dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, mirin, brown sugar, and sesame oil. Mix well and set aside.
Preparing the udon noodles for stir frying
- Bring water to a boil in a pot. Add the frozen udon noodles and let reheat for 2 minutes. Use chopsticks to gently untangle the noodles.
- Drain off water by transferring noodles to a strainer. Run cold water through the noodles and set aside.
Cooking the protein
- In a bowl, combine cubed chicken breast, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Mix well and let marinate for at least 5 minutes.
- Add 1 tbsp of canola oil into a pan over medium high heat. Add in the chicken breast and cook until every piece of chicken is cooked thoroughly. Stir fry occasionally to make sure everything is cooked evenly. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Assembling the dish
- Add 2 tbsp of canola oil on a pan over medium high heat. Add in the onions and stir fry until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add in the chopped cabbage and stir fry until soft and cooked, about 3 minutes. Push the onions and cabbage towards the sides of the pan to make a hole, and add in the udon noodles. Pour in the sauce mixture and mix well. Stir fry for about 5 minutes, or until the noodles soak up all the sauce.
- Add chopped green onions and cooked chicken. Stir to combine until the green onions are soft. Remove from heat and serve.