There are some nights during the week when I need a quick and easy dinner for the kids and hubby. I get home at 6pm and my mission is to have dinner on the table by 6:30pm lest Armageddon strikes. Thirty minutes. Do I turn to Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals (which I still read as meals that take Jamie Oliver thirty minutes to cook but the rest of us sixty) or do I turn to some sneaky secrets courtesy of my local Asian grocer? Behold, Japanese fried noodle (Yakisoba) in a packet!
Now, ‘packet noodle’ need not sound as insidious as it does. The sort I use for Yakisoba involves soft noodles (as opposed to the dried stuff) and a sachet of powdered sauce (some come with liquid sauce). Everything else you add is fresh as you want it to be! If you prefer making your own sauce to avoid typical additives in Asian processed foods (such as MSG) then please refer to this recipe. You can prepare a batch and keep in fridge for a few weeks.
The sky’s the limit with what you can add to your noodles which makes Yakisoba such a well loved convenience food in Japan. I have added strips of beef and shredded chicken in the past along with whatever vegetables I had on hand. On this particular occasion, I had some pork belly I needed to use up and the perfect recipe courtesy of David Chang, master of ramen and dropping the F-Bomb. This recipe is featured in the first edition of his magazine Lucky Peach.
Obviously, you will need to prepare the pork belly beforehand but it’s pretty easy. Once roasted, you can let it rest until you’re ready to add it to your noodles. Take your 500g of pork belly (select portions that are reasonably thick), plonk it into a roasting tray and cover it with 1.5 tablespoons of salt, 1.5 tablespoons of sugar and a few turns of cracked black pepper. Ideally, you should let the seasoned pork sit in the fridge overnight but 15 minutes still yields an amazing roast. Set your oven to 220C and give the pork belly 20-30 minutes of high heat. Reduce heat to 170C and allow to cook for another hour or so until tender (but not falling apart). Allow to rest and cool. Cut into thick slices.
For the noodles, prepare as per instructions on packet (most imported packs have English translation). One packet of noodles and sauce sachet will feed one person so cook up as required. Heat oil in frypan on medium heat. Add 1/2 cup of up to three vegetables of choice per person (I used some spring onion, sliced carrots and savoy cabbage) and sautee for a few minutes. Add noodles and break up clumps. Add your pork belly (all or just enough for one as required) and sauce. Stir through well then add 50 ml of water to steam up the noodles. Serve up to hungry family :)
Yakisoba is often served with a bit of pickled ginger and greatly enjoyed with a nice cold Asahi Super Dry (or whatever lager you’re into). It’s typically a summer food item but wonderful to eat any time in my opinion. Best of all, it’s another dish that the whole family can eat. Win!