This easy yaki udon noodles with homemade sauce recipe is one of my favorite ways to get a super flavorful dinner on the table in under 20 minutes. The yaki udon sauce is made up of a handful of simple ingredients that are probably already in your pantry (especially if you've signed up for my free Pantry Checklist!) and it's a great way to make a better-than-takeout meal in less time than it will take you to scroll through the UberEats app one more time.
Like most delicious stir fry recipes, this dish is endlessly customizable to your veggie and protein preferences, as well as the contents of your produce bins. So instead of reaching for a frozen pizza the next time you don't feel like cooking, reach for this chewy Japanese noodle package and you'll have a delicious, flavorful meal on the table a couple of minutes later.
What you'll need to make this Shrimp Noodles with Homemade Udon Sauce Recipe:
- udon noodles
- medium shrimp
- mixed chopped vegetables (baby bok choy leaves, green onions, shiitake mushrooms)
- fresh garlic cloves
- fresh ginger
- neutral oil
- oyster sauce
- dark and light soy sauce
- chili crisp
- brown sugar
- fresh lime juice
- sesame oil, optional
(full printable instructions included in the recipe card below)
Step by step instructions for yaki udon:
Firstly, make the yaki sauce for the udon noodle stir fry. Combine all sauce ingredients, including soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili crisp, mirin, brown sugar, cornstarch and fresh lime juice in a small bowl. Whisk well to combine. Set aside.
Next, prepare your udon noodles. If using vacuum packed cooked udon noodles, simply remove from their package and place into a bowl. Then boil enough water to cover the noodles and pour over. Let the noodles soak in the hot water for about a minute and gently separate the noodles in preparation for stir-frying. Drain and set aside. (If using dried udon, drop into boiling water and cook a few minutes less than package directions, until tender, but still al dente.)
Finally, prepare the stir fry vegetables. Mince your garlic and ginger, separate baby bok choy leaves, clean and slice shiitake mushrooms and slice scallions.
Next Heat neutral oil in a large pan, skillet or wok over medium heat. When hot, add ginger and garlic and stir fry for one minute. Add bok choy, shiitakes and scallions, sautéing for 2 minutes.
Afterwards add the shrimp and keep stir-frying for another 2 minutes. Then add udon noodles and sauce to the pan, increasing the heat to medium high.
Next bring the sauce to a simmer and toss to coat the vegetables and noodles in the sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning.
If using, drizzle sesame oil over the yaki udon and toss before plating. Serve with additional spring onions and lime wedges.
FAQ's and Serving Suggestions for this quick meal of shrimp yaki udon:
Most grocery stores large enough to have an international section will carry some kind of chewy udon noodles in their Asian groceries aisle. If you don't see shelf-stable udon noodles there, check out your local Asian grocery stores - you can often find shelf stable, dry noodles, fresh noodles or even frozen noodles there. Just be sure it's udon, which is a chewy wheat noodle, perfect for this savory sauce.
Your choice of protein will work! For pescatarians, shrimp, squid and even chunks of whitefish would be lovely. For non-pescatarians, chicken thighs, beef slices or ground pork would all be delicious in this tangy sauce.
Dry sherry or sweet marsala wine are probably your best substitutes, but neither are widely available in Portugal. So if I'm out of mirin, I'll use an equal amount of rice vinegar, and a pinch of sugar to counteract the tartness of the vinegar.
Add an extra 2 teaspoons of regular soy sauce (light soy sauce) and an extra two teaspoons of oyster sauce. Dark soy is richer and deeper than light soy - added more for coloring and flavor than saltiness. So mixing the two will give you a reasonable substitute.
Both are common in Japanese cuisine, but there are a few major differences. Udon noodles are straight and thicker, chewy noodles. Ramen are usually wavy, thinner noodles. Both are made with wheat flour and have a chewy texture, but udon noodles are vegan, and ramen noodles contain eggs. While udon are vegan, they are not gluten free, like the rice noodles you see in some stir fry dishes. So be sure if you're cooking for gluten-sensitive guests that you have the appropriate noodle!
Chili crisp is one of my favorite pantry staples. It’s available in your local Asian market or on Amazon. It is a super flavorful oil infused with crispy bits of dried chilies, garlic, onion and any number of other aromatics. Lao Gan Ma is the most popular and readily available brand (it’s the one I always have in my pantry, no matter where I am in the world). In Asia, many restaurants make their own variety in-house. Generally, chili crisp is a balance of savory and spicy flavors. I find it less spicy and less acidic than sriracha, and more approachable for many people. If you are looking to substitute for chili crisp, you could use whatever spicy thing you have in the pantry or fridge that your whole family enjoys. Hot sauce, red chili flakes, even cayenne powder.
Almost any vegetable that you and your family prefer will work here and add a fresh taste to the shrimp udon noodle dish. The shiitake mushrooms are my only non-negotiable when I make these fresh udon noodles, but I'll swap out bok choy for bell pepper (green or red pepper), snow peas or yellow onion. If I'm feeling fancy, I might add some baby corn to the frying pan.
To store, transfer the yaki udon stir fry noodles to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat the next day, heat in a small saucepan with a few tablespoons of stock or water over medium heat until heated through.
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