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Willing Cook-A-Long: Yakisoba

October 21, 2011

This week’s Willing Cook-A-Long Challenge was to make the Japanese dish yakisoba from Kelly the Kitchen Kop. I was intrigued by this recipe, because the protagonist in my manuscript “The Rice of Life” serves an 18 month mission in Japan, so I wanted to have some experience adapting Japanese food.

The Changes

I know it’s possible to buy gluten-free soba noodles, but none of the stores nearby carried them. I could order them online, but they got expensive. So, I opted to make my own following the recipe from The Nourishing Gourmet.

To make the dish soy free, I mostly followed Willing Cook’s soy sauce substitution. My only changes to it were to reduce the amount of beef broth and add salt.

As for other changes, I’ll admit I undid the changes Kelly the Kitchen Kop made to make it healthy, mostly because I don’t have those items in my pantry. So instead of coconut oil, sea salt, and natural sugar, I used canola oil, table salt, and granulated sugar. I also did a 2:1 substitution of chili powder for sriracha chili sauce, cut out the onion, and only used half as much cabbage.

The Method

I forgot to start the noodles soaking the night before, so I did it first thing in the morning. Mix the flour, water, and vinegar until it resembles fine crumbs.

Knead by hand until it forms a firm ball. Mine was fairly crumbly, so I added water just by wetting my hands as I put it together, since I had already moved the dough to a cutting board for easier kneading. Seeing how the noodles turned out, I should have left the dough in the bowl and added a full tablespoon of water.

Set the dough inside a clean bowl, covered with a wet dishcloth. Mine got to sit for about 10 1/2 hours.

To make the faux soy sauce, I combined the beef broth, vinegar, molasses, ginger, pepper, garlic, and salt in a small saucepan. Then I let it simmer until it had reduced to 1/2 cup.

In a large skillet (because I don’t have a wok), combine sriracha sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, canola oil, sesame oil, salt, and sugar. Heat over medium-high heat until it’s bubbled for 30 seconds. Enjoy the spicy aroma.

At least, I would have just heated it for 30 seconds had I actually cut the chicken up ahead of time. So, I turned the spices down to low so they wouldn’t burn while I cut the chicken. Once I added the chicken and half the “soy” sauce, I heated it back up to medium-high and cooked until there was no pink on the chicken. I actually probably overdid the chicken slightly, because the sauce reduced so much it pretty much all stuck to the chicken. I probably could have gotten away with leaving some for the vegetables.

Part of the reason the chicken went so long was at this point I remembered that I needed to prepare the noodles for cooking. So I rolled out the dough and cut it into strips with the pizza cutter. I have always thought that making your own noodles is the height of being domestic. But I did not feel domestic as the noodles crumbled in front of me. I blame the lack of water when kneading the dough.

While I let the noodles rest, I set the chicken aside in a bowl and added the cabbage, carrots, and rest of the “soy” sauce to the dish. When they looked to be half way done, I put the noodles in boiling water to cook for 2 minutes. When the noodles were done and drained, I added everything back to the skillet to cook through before serving. (You can tell I was getting stressed by this point, because of the lack of pictures.)


Adapted from Kelly the Kitchen Kop

Soy-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free

Faux soy sauce (Adapted from Willing Cook)

  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 4 teaspoons balsalmic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch pepper
  • pinch garlic powder

Whisk all ingredients together in a small saucepan. Simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup.


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 chicken tenders, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup Faux Soy Sauce (divided)
  • 1/4 head cabbage, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 recipe Homemade Soba Noodles from The Nourishing Gourmet

Make soba noodles according to Nourishing Gourmet’s directions.

Mix sriracha, garlic, onion powder, oils, salt, and sugar in a frying pan. Heat over medium-high heat until bubbling for 30 seconds.

Add chicken and 1/4 cup “soy” sauce. Stir-fry until chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.

Add cabbage, carrots, and remaining “soy” sauce to pan. Cook until cabbage starts to wilt (Note, this is when you should put your soba noodles in the boiling water to cook, so it’s done at about the same time). Add noodles and chicken back to pan and heat through.

Serves about 4.

What I Thought

I liked it, though I was really disappointed with how the noodles turned out. Didn’t really affect their taste much though. My husband didn’t care for them, and set them aside on his plate along with the cabbage. My daughter just sat there asking for rice the entire time until I showed her that I hadn’t made rice for dinner. Then she sat and moped until my husband forced a piece of chicken into her mouth, which she spat out. Joseph ate the chicken greedily though, which surprised me, since they had a fair amount of spiciness to them.

So, the only thing I’d probably salvage out of this would be the chicken and carrots, which I would serve with rice in the future. Course, now I have a pack of buckwheat flour I need to figure out how to use up.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2011 12:57 pm

    Ah, Annaliesse, I think you get the domestic award for the week. I would never have thought about making my own noodles. I’m not sure how much the taste was altered by using rice noodles, but it certainly didn’t seem to make much difference to me. We all really enjoyed this dish, especially the spice flavors. Perhaps next time, you could just stick with the rice, chicken, carrots and spices.

    Thanks for being a loyal willing cook-a-longer! I enjoy your dedication and “re”creations every week. I hope you’ll join up again this week!

    • October 24, 2011 8:56 am

      Thanks so much for your kind words. I probably will just stick with rice, chicken, carrots and spices in the future.

      I do plan on joining up next week. I think part of my enjoyment of this series is my mom always tried a new recipe every week, and I like continuing that tradition.

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