Bacon and tofu yakisoba is a simple one pot stir fry dinner with bacon, tofu, ramen noodles, yummy veggies, tossed in a tangy sauce. Try it tonight! My family loved it, and I think yours will too.Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
What is Yakisoba?
Yakisoba is a Japanese stir fried noodle dish commonly prepared in a large wok or on a flat top grill. I make yakisoba with bacon, tofu, cabbage, carrots, onions, and shiitake mushrooms, but it can be adapted to include a wide variety of proteins and vegetables. It was the dish my host family prepared to welcome me to their home on my first visit to Japan as a teenager!
What Kind of Noodles Are Used in Yakisoba?
In Japanese, “yaki” means fried and “soba” means noodles. “Soba noodles,” however, are buckwheat-based. These noodles are NOT usually used in yakisoba, which can be confusing. Instead, yakisoba is traditionally made with Chinese egg noodles referred to as “chukasoba” or “chukamen” (“chuka” means Chinese) They are very similar to ramen noodles, which also work well in this recipe (without the flavoring packet). Udon noodles are much thicker than ramen or chukasoba/chukamen, but they can be used to make a similar dish called yakiudon.
What Kind of Pan is Needed to Make Yakisoba?
Traditionally, yakisoba is prepared either on a large flat-top grill or griddle, or in a big wok. I have this Joyce Chen 14″ carbon steel wok, which is a good size for preparing one-pot stir fries. You can also use a flat top cast iron grill pan, like this one from Lodge or an electric griddle – mine is Presto.
I prefer a wok for stir fries, because the round shape means the pan is much hotter at the bottom than it is on the sides. If you add new ingredients to the middle of the pan while pushing those you’ve already cooked out to the sides, you can keep everything in one pot without having limp overcooked veggies. To use a grill pan, place it over one burner and move the already cooked ingredients off to the side away from the heat.
If your only option is a flat-bottomed sauté pan, I would advise changing the recipe a bit to accommodate. Cook the tofu and remove. Cook the bacon and remove. For best results you could cook the veggies each separately, but otherwise reduce the time a little. Add the onion and carrot together and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook for 4 minutes or until just tender. Try to make a little hole in the center to add the mushrooms, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Then add the garlic, sauce, and proceed with the recipe as written.
Ingredients for Yakisoba with Bacon and Tofu
Meat for Yakisoba
Yakisoba is traditionally a pork dish, most often made in Japan with thin slices of pork belly. Pork belly can be a bit harder to find in the US, but bacon is a great substitute. Bacon is just pork belly that has been cured and smoked – I make my own if you’re interested in the process. Obviously the cure ingredients and the smoke add flavor to the bacon, but I think it only makes the yakisoba taste better. If you happen to have some pork belly to use up, you can definitely substitute it in this dish!
This is a bacon website, but you don’t have to use bacon or pork belly to make yakisoba. It’s also good with thinly sliced pieces of pork loin, and with steak, chicken, shrimp, and scallops. You can also leave the meat out entirely and make it vegetarian.
Tofu for Yakisoba
What do the Different Types of Tofu Mean?
Tofu is classified based on its moisture content. Silken or soft tofu has the most moisture, and is best for things like smoothies, dips, and salad dressings. It won’t work in a stir fry. Regular tofu is sold as medium, firm, extra firm, and super firm. Any of these will work in this recipe, but I prefer extra firm. Medium and firm varieties will require longer pressing times, will be more difficult to handle, and they may crumble during frying. Super firm requires the least work, but it can taste dried out. Extra firm is right in the middle, and is readily available at most grocery stores.
How to Prepare Tofu for Stir Frying
When you stir fry things, you want them to be dry. Otherwise you can’t get a crisp exterior. Extra firm tofu is best when pressed for at least 10 minutes prior to slicing. You can purchase a special tofu press for this purpose, but I just place my tofu brick between two layers of folded paper towels and set a heavy cast iron pan on top. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes, then slice.
To slice tofu, first cut the brick in half to make two layers. Stack them, then slice into cubes that are about 3/4″ per side. To get a crunchy coating, toss the tofu cubes with a little corn starch and some salt for flavor. Quickly fry them for about 2 minutes per side in a single layer (in batches if needed). Super easy, and great for adding to any stir-fried dish.
What if I Don’t Like Tofu?
Leave it out! My kids think tofu is quite literally the best thing since sliced bread, so I always have some around and I put it in a lot of different things. It’s not mandatory. You can skip it entirely, or replace with something else if you’d like – scallops, shrimp, more pork, or a heartier vegetable like cauliflower.
Noodles for Yakisoba
As I explained above, yakisoba recipes do not traditionally use buckwheat soba noodles. Chinese egg noodles are preferred. If you can find fresh Chinese noodles, ramen noodles, or yakisoba noodles those are your best choice. Dried Chinese egg noodles or ramen noodles also work very well for yakisoba. Whichever you choose, cook according to package directions and discard any accompanying seasoning packets.
You can also choose to make yakiudon by substituting udon noodles for the egg or ramen noodles. Most grocery stores carry dried udon these days, and fresh noodles are even better if you can find them. Udon noodles are thick and chewy, so you’re changing the consistency of the dish, but it’s a nice variation to try one night.
Vegetables for Yakisoba
Most yakisoba recipes include cabbage, onions, and carrots. The cabbage can be red, green, Napa, or a combination. The carrots should be cut into matchsticks, and the onions should be sliced rather than diced.
I love mushrooms, and shiitakes are a great addition to bacon yakisoba. If you don’t have shiitakes, you could also use oyster, enoki, cremini, portobello, or even button mushrooms.
Yakisoba, like any stir fry, is a great refrigerator clean out recipe. If you have half a zucchini, part of a cauliflower or broccoli, or some bell pepper to use up, just slice them into strips or small florets and add them in.
You can buy ready made yakisoba sauce if you’d like, but I always make my own. I make yakisoba sauce by mixing together four ingredients that are staples in my kitchen: sake (Japanese rice wine), mirin (sweetened rice wine), tonkatsu sauce (a slightly sweet, thick Japanese worcestershire), and soy sauce. If you aren’t familiar with tonkatsu sauce, it’s worth an order. Tonkatsu is one of my kids’ most-requested dinners, and it’s just breaded, fried pork cutlet with tonkatsu sauce. If you can’t or don’t want to track these ingredients down though, I’ll give you some alternatives.
You can approximate tonkatsu sauce by mixing ketchup and worcestershire in a 2:1 ratio. Add a squirt of oyster sauce if you have any. If you don’t have sake, substitute mirin and a tiny dash of rice wine (or white) vinegar to cut the sweetness. Or substitute white wine with a pinch of sugar for both the sake and the mirin. Obviously if you make this recipe with white wine, sugar, ketchup, soy and worcestershire it won’t taste exactly the same as mine. Try to get your hands on at least some of the Japanese ingredients if you can.
How to Make Yakisoba with Bacon and Tofu
When you make any kind of a stir fry dish, it’s important to have all of your ingredients chopped, mixed, and ready before you start cooking. If you try to multitask, you’ll inevitably wind up with limp overcooked ingredients when you lose track of time.
Start by pressing the tofu while you cut up the bacon and vegetables. Mix the yakisoba sauce. Cube the tofu and toss it with cornstarch and a pinch of salt. Cook the ramen noodles according to package directions and drain – this can be done in the wok if you’d like to save a pan. Place your wok or grill pan on a burner over medium-high heat, or turn your griddle up to its highest setting.
Add some oil to the pan – I like a mix of vegetable and sesame. The sesame oil adds flavor to the tofu, but you can skip it if you don’t have any. Add the cornstarch-coated tofu cubes in a single layer and cook for about 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Do this in batches if needed, then set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Dump out the oil and wipe the wok or pan clean.
Turn the heat down to medium, and add the bacon pieces to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until just starting to crisp. The bacon will continue to cook while you continue with the recipe, so don’t go overboard here. Push the cooked bacon out to the edges of your wok or grill pan. If you’re using a griddle or flat bottomed pan that cooks evenly, cook the bacon until your desired level of crispness and then remove from the pan until the vegetables are ready. Don’t discard the bacon fat, you’ll use it to cook the rest of the yakisoba.
When you push the bacon out towards the edges of the pan, you create space in the hot middle area for the next ingredient. Add the onions first and cook for 2 minutes. Push them out towards the edges and add the carrots. Then the cabbage. Then the mushrooms and the garlic.
Add Noodles and Assemble Yakisoba
Once all of the vegetables are ready, push them out towards the edges (this will be harder now, it’s okay) and add the noodles to the middle of the pan. Stir everything together. Add the yakisoba sauce and stir or toss to coat everything. Cook the yakisoba for about 2 more minutes, then you’re ready to eat!
I like to top yakisoba with diced scallions. If you want to stay traditional to the Japanese recipe, however, you should use aonori (blue seaweed) and gari (pickled ginger – the kind that comes out with sushi). Either way it will be delicious! Please let me know what you think.
What to Serve with Yakisoba
Yakisoba is filling and can absolutely be a meal on its own. If you’d like to serve it with something, I’d suggest sticking with the theme and serving another Japanese dish
- Gyoza (Bacon and Shrimp Gyoza)
- Miso Soup
- Okonomiyaki (Savory Japanese Pancake)
- Yakitori (Grilled Skewered Japanese Chicken)
If you like this recipe, some other recipes of mine that you may be interested in are:
- Pork Belly Ramen
- Instant Pot Ramen Broth
- Breakfast Congee with Bacon and Egg
- Pork Pho with Bacon
- Instant Pot Beef Tendon Pho
Please let me know how this recipe works for you! I love comments, and they help me to grow and improve my site. If you’d like more bacon-filled recipes in your inbox, subscribe to my email list above. You can also follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook, and please share my recipes with your friends on social media. Thanks for reading, and hope to see you again soon!
Yakisoba (Japanese Stir Fried Noodles) with Bacon and Tofu
- 1 lb tofu extra firm, pressed (see note), cut into 3/4" cubes
- 8 oz bacon sliced into lardons
- 14 oz ramen (chukasoba) noodles no seasoning
- 1 onion sliced
- 4 oz carrots about 2, cut into matchsticks
- 12 oz cabbage thinly chopped
- 4 oz shiitake mushrooms washed, trimmed, and sliced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 scallions chopped
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- 2 tsp salt
Yakisoba Sauce (May Substitute Storebought)
- 1/2 cup sake Japanese rice wine
- 1/2 cup tonkatsu sauce preferably Bulldog, see notes
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp mirin sweetened rice wine
- Place cubed tofu into a medium bowl with corn starch and 1 tsp salt. Toss to coat.
- Make sauce: mix sake, tonkatsu sauce, soy sauce, and mirin in a small bowl. Stir to combine.
- Cook noodles according to package directions and drain.
- Heat wok over medium-high heat. Add vegetable and sesame oils. When hot, add tofu cubes in a single layer – cook in batches if needed. Cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Carefully wipe wok free of oil.
- Turn heat under wok down to medium. Add bacon. Cook 10 minutes or until beginning to crisp. Move to sides of wok, leaving center open.
- Increase heat to medium-high. Add onions to middle of wok. Cook 2 minutes. Push out to edges. Add carrots to middle of wok. Cook 2 minutes. Push to edges. Add cabbage and remaining salt in the same manner and cook 4 minutes, then mushrooms for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring to combine.
- Add noodles to wok and cook 1 min. Then add yakisoba sauce. Cook 2 minutes. Add tofu and scallions. Toss to combine. Serve immediately, and enjoy!