A few weeks ago, Piero and I went on a wild goose chase for a carbon steel wok. We have a non-stick one, but they’re just not the same! For a proper stir-fry, you need a wok that can get really hot. As in, frighteningly hot. Guaranteed-to-set-off-the-smoke-alarm-every-time hot.
We looked everywhere – kitchen stores, department stores, even a Chinese restaurant supply store out in Markham. But to no avail. Defeat seemed imminent. But then, wandering down an aisle in Walmart in search of something else entirely, lo and behold, there it was. A genuine carbon steel wok. (I know, our lives are pretty exciting.) (Also, this is why Walmart is taking over the world.)
Our search was totally worth it. The shrimp cooked in the wok for this recipe were amazing! And they were only flavoured with salt and pepper. The carbon steel gives food a singed taste that is kind of indescribable and 100% delicious.
I’m a bit of a chicken and didn’t bring the wok to the highest heat possible. Mostly because I’m a total klutz and feared dropping the wok on my foot or, ya know, setting myself on fire. If you want to do this really properly, you should probably cook the yakisoba in two batches so that the wok doesn’t cool down too much from being overcrowded.
Yakisoba is a popular Japanese street food, consisting of fried noodles with veggies and basically whatever kind of protein you prefer. I used cabbage, carrot, and shrimp in this version, but you could use whatever you happen to have in the fridge: bean sprouts or broccoli would be great veggies to use, and carnivore versions with chicken or beef would work as well.
Yakisoba sauce is what pulls this whole dish together. I was adapting my yakisoba from this recipe and had to tweak the sauce a little because I could not find mirin (a type of rice wine) or kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce). If you can find these ingredients, I’m sure it would make your yakisoba just that much yummier.
Recipe adapted from Delishar.
- 450 g shrimp, cleaned
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 bundles of dried soba noodles or 2 packages of fresh yakisoba noodles
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3-4 cups cabbage, thinly chopped
- 1/2 cup carrot, shredded
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
For the yakisoba sauce:
- 2.5 tablespoons rice vinegar OR 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and 1.5 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1.5 tablespoons sweet soy sauce OR kecap manis
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
For topping (optional):
- Hot sauce
- Sliced green onion
- Nori flakes
- Sesame seeds
- While you prepare the other ingredients, let the shrimp marinate with salt and pepper. Combine the yakisoba sauce ingredients in a small dish, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.
- If you’re using dried noodles: in a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Rinse the soba noodles under cold water until the water stops foaming to remove any excess starch. Add the noodles to the boiling water, pouring in a cup of cold water every few minutes to allow the noodles to cook evenly. Cook until the noodles are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Once the wok is very hot, add the shrimp and stir-fry until the shrimp are almost done (they’ll finish cooking after). Remove the shrimp from the wok and set aside.
- Rinse the wok out and dry with a paper towel. Heat the rest of the oil in the wok. Add the noodles to the wok and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes, until they are slightly browned.
- Push the noodles to the side of the wok and add all the vegetables. Add a few tablespoons of water to cook the vegetables, stirring until the water is evaporated and the veggies are tender.
- Add in the cooked shrimp and toss them together with the noodles and veggies. Once the shrimp are fully cooked, add in the sauce and stir to combine.
- Serve yakisoba garnished with your toppings of choice.