Chewy udon noodles soaked in a sweet and sour sesame sauce with your choice of pork or tofu.
Back in my university days there was a Chinese restaurant that served the BEST Shanghai noodle dish. My friends and I would love to pick some up for a late night snack… or was it dinner? Our eating habits were maybe not the best or most predictable!
My favourite part was the dense chewy noodles.
It was only years later, walking through the grocery store did I see these thick noodles and discover there were called udon!
If you can’t get your hands on some udon, you can definitely swap in spaghetti or linguini but I’d definitely encourage you to make an effort on the udon front!
Shihoko, from Chopstick Chronicles even has a 30 minute homemade udon recipe. She makes it look so easy and fun; her recipe calls for kneading the dough by placing it in a ziplock bag and stepping on it.
Definitely gotta get my kids involved with this one. They’re going through a weird phase where they’re on a noodle strike. I mean… what kind of kid doesn’t like noodles? They’re impossible, I tell ya.
Speaking of noodles, I just learned the difference between pasta and noodles!
Pasta: processed into different shapes through an extruder
Noodles: rolled into flat sheets and cut
I’ve definitely been using those two words interchangeably my whole life!
About This Sesame Udon Stirfry
As the name would suggest, this stirfry has a good sesame flavour base. I love using some toasted sesame oil for its rich, earthy, nutty flavour. Matched with flavourful aromatics ginger, garlic, and balanced with a touch of sweet and sour from the mirin (see substitution section if you don’t have any).
The veggies: You’re likely familiar with cabbage but the yu choi or gai lan might be new to you if you haven’t done a lot of cooking with Asian ingredients! This recipe is actually a re-creation of a meal subscription I received. Prior to having the gai lan sent right to my doorstep, I hadn’t ever cooked with it before!
These greens are very similar to other leafy greens such as chard or spinach in that you’ll add a gigantic pile to the pan but then they nearly disappear as they cook down!
As I’ve learned from my colleague Michelle Jaelin (aka @nutritionartist) These greens are a fantastic source of fibre, Vitamins A, C, and B. If you’re faced with the opportunity to buy either yu choy or gai lan, note that yu choy tens to be less bitter!
I haven’t personally tested these substitutions but I’m taking an educated guess that these swaps will work.
If you don’t have….
Udon…. you can use pre-cooked spaghetti or linguini
Mirin… you can use 1/3 cup rice vinegar and 1 tbsp sugar
Yu Choy or Gain Lan…. you can use spinach, kale, or swiss chard
And if you want to make this vegetarian, you can use tofu instead of pork!
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Sesame Udon Stir fry
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 400 g shredded cabbage you could also use a pre-shredded coleslaw mix
- 1 lb asian greens yu choi or gai lan, roughly chopped, bottom inch of stem removed
- 1 lb ground pork or extra firm tofu
- 2 green onions divided
- 400 g fresh udon noodles *see note
- 2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- ⅓ cup mirin
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- Mix together the brown sugar, sesame seeds, garlic powders, salt and pepper then set aside.
- Heat the canola oil in a large high-sided frying pan or wok over medium heat.
- Add the cabbage and saute for 5-6 minutes or until the edges start to brown.
- Turn the heat down to medium low and add the asian greens and half the spice mix. Saute intermittently until the greens wilt, about another 3-4 minutes.
- While the greens are cooking, chop the green onions, keeping the white and green parts separate.
- Remove the sauteed veggies to a bowl.
- In the same frying pan, crumble-fry the ground pork, the other half of the spice mix, and the WHITE parts of the green onions until the pork is no longer pink. If you're using tofu, then crumble fry along with 1 tsp canola oil.
- Add the veggies back into the pan along with the noodles, ginger, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil.
- Cook on low, stirring occasionally, until the noodles have absorbed most of the sauce.