Yaki Udon Noodles Stir Fry is a classic Japanese stir-fry dish that’s been slightly modified in this recipe for a vegetarian twist.
The slightly chewy udon noodles are first boiled and then combined with stir-fried vegetables and a rich soy sauce base for that ultimate umami Japanese flavour experience!
What is Yaki Udon?
How to pronounce yaki udon: ya-kee-oo-don
Yaki udon is a stir-fried dish made with white Udon noodles, dark soy-based sauce, veggies, and often meat protein.
Udon noodles are thick, soft, and chewy wheat flour noodles that are very common in Asian, mostly Japanese cuisine. They are often cooked the same way as popular yakisoba, ramen, or lo mein-style dishes.
- Udon noodles - You can use pre-cooked noodles, dried noodles, or frozen noodles, depending on preference and availability. Rice noodles, buckwheat noodles, ramen noodles, soba noodles, or bean thread noodles are great gluten-free alternatives.
- Small bok choy - Rinse any remaining dirt or debris from the bok choy and then trim it with separated leaves.
- Shiitake mushrooms - Sliced. Other mushrooms that will suit this stir fry include enoki mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, king trumpet mushrooms, maitake mushrooms, or button mushrooms.
- Brown onion - Chopped roughly or sliced thin. Shallots, spring onion, or red onion can also be used.
- Garlic - Minced.
- Soy sauce - I've used regular soy sauce (not dark soy sauce) for this savory sauce, but you can use low-sodium soy sauce if you need to watch your sodium intake.
- Oyster sauce - Thickens the sauce and adds that needed umami flavor. There are some versions of oyster sauce that are made with mushrooms and therefore it is suitable for vegans. Oyster sauce is fine to use if you are a pescatarian. For 100% vegan version, you can use teriyaki sauce (just check the ingredient label that it is not made with honey).
- Mirin - For the sauce.
- Honey - For the sauce. Omit or replace with other sweetener if need this dish to be vegan.
For the full list of ingredients, please scroll down to where you'll find the recipe card.
Let’s learn how to make this flavorful stir fry from scratch in just a few steps.
In a small bowl or mason jar whisk the savory sauce ingredients.
Cook the fresh udon noodles as per package directions (2-3 minutes). Separate the noodles with chopsticks to prevent sticking. Rinse the cooked Japanese noodles under cold water and drain.
In a large pan or wok over medium-high heat, saute onion and mushrooms until softened.
Add in garlic, and bok choy and saute further for 30 seconds.
Stir in the sauce, remove from heat, and toss the noodles until fully covered in the sauce.
Taste for seasoning and serve with sesame seeds and a drizzle of sriracha mayo.
Yaki Udon Variations and Substitutions
Udon noodles substitute soba noodles, ramen noodles or thicker rice noodles.
Add protein: ground beef, pork, or chicken. Use lean meat whenever possible or for a healthier choice, use sliced turkey breast instead.
Oyster sauce: thicker teriyaki sauce or fish sauce.
Mirin substitute: the closest choice would be rice vinegar or white wine, dry sherry or sweet marsala wine.
Veggies: green beans, edamamame, or green cabbage or napa cabbage in place of bok choy. We also like to add mung beans or snap peas in addition.
For a nutritious meal you could also add chopped and toasted nuts: peanuts, almonds, cashews or a variety of mixed nuts and seeds.
- This dish is dairy free, vegetarian, and simple to make. For a more wholesome meal, you could add veggie protein such as tofu or tempeh. Or top your noodles with a fried egg or hard-boiled egg. Delicious.
- Meat protein. Add ground meat or another choice of protein to this dish if you wish. Ground chicken works well, but you could add ground beef, pork, or seafood.
- Udon noodles are not gluten-free, as they contain wheat flour. This is important to remember if anyone you are serving this dish to has gluten allergies. For a tasty udon noodle substitute, use soba nodules instead. They are delicious with this sauce but are slightly different in texture than udon. Udon noodles are thicker and chewier.
- Always follow the packaging directions for cooking freshly made or dried udon noodles. I shave about 1 minute off the total cooking time since the noodles will continue to cook in the stir-fry mixture.
- Rinsing the cooked noodles with cold water will help prevent them from sticking together. You can also coat the noodles with a little oil if you aren’t using them immediately.
✅ EXPERT TIP You can usually find pre-cooked udon noodles in the refrigerated or frozen section of Asian grocery stores. Frozen noodles tend to produce a chewy texture that this dish is well known for, and you’re also likely not to overcook the noodles.
- 🍱To Store. Store udon noodles leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the skillet or microwave.
- 🥶Freezing. Allow to cool completely and place in a zip lock bag or airtight container. Freeze for up to 3-4 months.
- To make ahead, you can cook the veggies, make the sauce and keep them separately refrigerated for up to 2-3 days. On the day, cook the noodles and add in the remaining ingredients.
🤷Frequently Asked Questions
Udon refers to a type of Japanese noodle that contains wheat, while Yaki Udon is a Japanese stir fry dish, traditionally consisting of udon noodles, stir-fried vegetables, meat, and a soy sauce base. You'll find this dish served at Japanese restaurants.
The stir fry sauce used in this Japanese noodle dish consists of a mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, mirin, and some type of sweetener (either sugar or honey). This sauce can also include ingredients like sesame oil, hoisin sauce, and rice vinegar.
You can cook udon noodles by boiling them, pan-frying them, or deep-frying them in some cases. No matter the cooking method, it's best to cook them until al dente as these chewy udon noodles will continue to cook when added to the frying pan.
When using dried noodles, it’s best to first soak them in warm water for a minimum of 20 minutes before cooking them. For all other kinds (pre-cooked or frozen) make sure to follow the packing directions and shave off about 1 minute of cooking time so that you are left with slightly chewy noodles.
Yaki udon noodles stir fry is a relatively healthy dish consisting of nutrient and fiber-rich vegetables and energy-providing carbohydrates.
You could easily include some ground chicken, beef, or seafood to add a portion of protein to each serving for a well-balanced meal.
I hope you'll love this yaki udon recipe!
Easy Asian Style Recipes
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Yaki Udon Noodles Stir Fry
- 2 packets udon noodles fresh or frozen
- 3-4 small bok choy trimmed and leaves separated
- 10 oz shiitake mushrooms sliced
- ¾ cup brown onion chopped roughly or sliced thin
- 1 ½ teaspoon garlic minced
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 4 tablespoon oyster sauce use honey free teriyaki sauce if need a vegan version
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 2 teaspoon honey or maple syrup or agave nectar
- Sriracha mayo for serving
- In a small bowl or mason jar whisk the savoury sauce ingredients.
- Cook the fresh udon noodles as per package directions (2-3 minutes). Separate the noodles with chopsticks to prevent sticking. Rinse the cooked Japanese noodles under cold water and drain.
- In a large pan or wok over medium-high heat, saute onion and mushrooms until softened. Add in garlic, and bok choy and saute further for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the sauce, remove from heat, and toss the noodles until fully covered in the sauce.
- Taste for seasoning and serve with sesame seeds and a drizzle of sriracha mayo.