There are many dishes I call by their traditional, not-vegan names. With some foods, this false identification is obvious — such as “sausage” or “macaroni and cheese” — but with others, you might not know the original wasn’t vegan. Yakisoba is one of those dishes.
Yakisoba is similar to chow mein and originated in China, though it is now considered a Japanese dish typically sold as fast food. In the United States, the dish is less prevalent, but you can easily make it at home.
The traditional dish features chukamen noodles, which are similar to ramen noodles and are made with wheat flour and egg. My version utilizes buckwheat soba noodles as a substitution. I choose soba partly for their vegan ingredients, partly for their flavor, and partly for the simple pleasure of using the noodles you might assume were already in the dish (the “soba” in “yakisoba”).
Even in the realm of traditional yakisoba, there are numerous variations, as the dish takes well to a number of ingredients. Start by picking out a variety of vegetables to suit your preferences. Napa cabbage and carrots are traditional, and they add superb color and texture to the dish. My other favorites include broccoli, which catches the sauce like a sponge, mushrooms and snow peas. For protein, I switch between shelled edamame and tempeh, though you can also use fried tofu.
The sauce is really what brings the dish together. It is slightly sweet and a little tangy. The simple, yet flavorful, profile of ginger, sesame and soy sauce pairs well with the vegetables and is easy on picky palates. I happily ate yakisoba as a choosy child and would recommend it to anyone having a tough time with their vegetable intake.
In addition to the versatility, yakisoba is great for busy cooks. It is one of my midweek go-to meals. The whole meal can be whipped up in half an hour, if you’re speedy, and it reheats well for leftovers.
My partner says “It’s sooooooo-ba good!”
Lisa Wardle has been vegan for seven years. She enjoys creating a wide range of foods, but is particularly fond of baked goods, reinvented American classics and Asian cuisine. Email her at email@example.com.