菜食主義者野菜焼きそば: Vegetarian Yakisoba

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My oven remains MIA for an indefinite period. Apparently the igniter needs to be replaced but as the fates would have it, the manufacturer is out of stock and they don’t know when they’ll have more or how long it would take to produce another. [eep!] Theoretically a nebulous someone is looking for an igniter somewhere for me but …. On the bright side, summer seems just around the corner so stir-fries and BBQs will start to populate our menu and when the highs are in the 80s, firing up the oven seems like as good an idea as buying stock in hydrogen powered dirigibles. Sadly for the hubby, our desserts and his cycling commuting rewards will have to take the shape of non-baked goods but I’ve got a few tricks up my cap sleeves.

I’ve been experimenting with different sauces to come up with a vegetarian yakisoba sauce recipe (actually vegan in this case🙂 ) that doesn’t taste like an anemic, shallow version of traditional yakisoba sauce that’s made with Worcestershire sauce. What, Worcestershire sauce isn’t vegetarian? Nope, unless you consider sardines to be fruit😉 And while sardine extract is literally the last and least (in terms of quantity) on the list of ingredients, its absence is definitely felt. I suspect that it provides a necessary 旨味 umami component missing from the other ingredients (tomato, apple, prune, carrot, onion, apricot, vinegar, sugar, salt, and “unknown” spices) so why not replace it with a different form of umami? I’ve substituted Bulldog Fruit & Vegetable Sauce (also called 豚カツソース tonkatsu sauce as it’s used for eating those delicious breaded pork cutlets) which has that sweet and tangy flavor profile found in Japanese Worcestershire sauce. Adding savory, umami-rich miso paste provides that missing depth and je ne sais quois from the absent sardines. It doesn’t have that faint murky briny undertone of Worcestershire sauce but it’s incredibly close. In fact, the hubster thought it was the same sauce🙂 As with traditional yakisoba, feel free to toss in whatever veggies look tempting at the market or look like they need a new home in your veggie drawer. I always have carrots in the refrigerator and sweet cabbage and crisp bok choy just seem like natural pairings. Protein is present in the form of nutty 枝豆 edamame (shelled soy beans) as well as savory-sweet 稲荷揚げ inariage (fried tofu pockets simmered in a soy sauce, mirin, and sugar sauce used to make 稲荷寿司 inarizushi or seasoned sushi rice tucked into tofu pockets) but plain firm tofu or fried tofu would also work.

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Vegetarian Yakisoba Sauce
4 tbsp light soy sauce (I use Yamasa)
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp Bulldog Fruit & Vegetable Sauce (Tonkatsu Sauce) or your favorite Worcestershire sauce if not eating vegetarian (I like Bulldog brand :))
1 tbsp 白味噌 shiromiso (I like Hikari brand)
2 tbsp (3 inches) crushed ginger
2 tsp (4 cloves) crushed ginger
1 tsp sriracha, optional

In a small bowl mix together all ingredients till smooth. Set aside.

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Yakisoba
2 tsp canola oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
1/2 cabbage, julienned
4 baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise
1/2 c shelled edamame
8 pieces 稲荷揚げ inariage, in 1/4-inch strips
1 lb fresh yakisoba noodles

In a large wok or large (at least 3 quarts) pot heat vegetable oil and sesame oil over med-hi heat then sauté onion and carrots till onion is soft and translucent ~5 minutes. Add baby bok choy and cabbage then sauté till the cabbage is wilted ~5-7 minutes. Stir in edamame and inariage then put vegetables aside in a large bowl. Add half of noodles and mix in half of yakisoba sauce, fold noodles to mix with sauce (I find this works better than stirring with long noodles like these as they tend to break or try to escape from the wok otherwise). Add remaining noodles and sauce and fold to mix in sauce. Return vegetable mixture with any accumulated juices. Mix thoroughly and remove from heat. Makes 4-6 servings.

About Cam

Enjoying the hippie life in Portlandia :)

8 comments

  1. I am soooooo jealous of your knife collection.

    • Cam

      I am so in love with these knives. Light and wickedly sharp, just perfect for my small arthritic hands. I’ve accumulated them over years but definitely worth the investment given how much cooking I do and they last forever (I actually only have to get them professionally sharpened once a year and just use my Minosharp ceramic wheel sharpener a few times in between). Think of all the money we’re saving by eating at home–at least that’s what I keep telling the hubby whenever he complains😉

  2. I love the sound of that sauce, Cam. I’m looking at the ingredients for the yokisoba and wonder about the inariage. ‘ll have to get to a market and ask around to see what they’ve got. Then again, I could play it safe and just substitute chicken or pork. Yes, it would no longer be vegetarian but I bet it’s still tasty! 🙂

    • Cam

      The inariage is great if you like sweetly savory flavors and want to keep this vegetarian. I also make this with chicken and a non-vegetarian with a traditional yakisoba sauce too. Pretty much any protein you like will work although I haven’t tried seafood … yet, hehe.

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