I’m a bit homesick. I still feel as if I got off the plane in Chicago from Narita just a few years ago. The realization that it was over ten years ago is rather disheartening. With the recent natural disasters, it is even worse. Pictures of the piers that my father taught me to fish off of heaped with rubble and destroyed fishing boats have been hard to take. Even months on.
I guess I am just too sentimental for my child hood. Life seemed so nice and sheltered and simple then. It probably wasn’t. But comparatively, it was amazing.
Being hit with such a feeling in the office today while staring at the spreadsheets that represent my absolute job security (I am the IV into the labor vein of my building), I knew I had to make something from home. Seeing how it is Matsuri season, I wanted street eats. Also, it is Food Truck Fest this weekend in Kansas City–street food is on my mind big time!
I remember getting coins from Mum and Da and the Fox and I running off to get yakitori, yakisoba, takoyaki, and cotton candy from the cheerful vendors. Vendors who were always astonished at the little American kids who spoke fairly good, if shy, Japanese. We would get a bit of a haul and come back and eat happily through the night, listening to the flutes and drums and watching the colorful floats and dancers whirl through the growing darkness. The Fox always got two plastic containers of yakisoba, at least. The boy can eat and not show it. I hate him.
Getting home at 7 PM meant marinating chicken for yakitori was right out the window. Finding good salmon I want to buy is difficult here, so octopus for takoyaki is right out the window. I never really like cotton candy; I just liked the superhero bags it came in (Sailor Saturn was my favorite). Yakisoba it is. A quick stop at Hy-vee later, I was home with some pork and cabbage (napa) and ready to roll.
The first step in cooking anything is to assemble the suspects. Thin pork cutlets, napa cabbage, your favorite yakisoba sauce (I know, I should make my own!), your BBQ sauce of choice, your noodle of choice (or availability), and a bit of oil. Also!
Chop up your cutlet and then massage with the BBQ sauce of choice. I use Fat Bastard Red Dragon sauce (funnily enough, I cannot find a web presence to link). It has a lovely sweetness and a really nice bit of heat that hits the back of your throat.
While you are mucking about with your pork, cook up your noodle of choice. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and rinse with cool water. Set aside and start your wok going with a bit of oil. Do you have a wok ring for your stove? Lucky bitch. I keep forgetting I need one for my crap electric stove…until I use my wok. Dump in your piggie and stir fry for a few minutes till crunchy and cooked.
Once that is done, put it aside and wipe out your wok. If you have bought some lovely fresh Napa cabbage, shred it thinly now. As I somehow bought complete crap Napa cabbage, the procedure is thus: cut into the head of cabbage that, while not looking pristine, looks fairly passable. Catch questionable whiff and view fuzziness. Swearing is NOT OPTIONAL. Have another glass of wine. Refill glass.
Toss the noodles in the wok with a bit more oil (if you have any vegg that are not crap, add them prior to now). Add in your sauce; I use the Otafuku brand as it is A: fairly lovely in flavour and B: most commonly available in middle America.
Let this hang out over a high mark so that bits of the noodles get caramelized and have some texture. Once it gets going and the sauce is to your taste (squeeze on till your happy, measurements are for those who have not been drinking) let it hang out and think about it over the heat. This may take a bit to get to your level of comfort, so:
Also, screw with the dog if you like (and I always like):
So yeah, you were cooking. Once the noodles get all kinds of interesting texture wise, you have accomplished yakisoba! A basic yakisoba to be sure! But still! If you have pickled ginger, chiffonade that and some nori sheets for the top. Really takes it from basic to lush.
A quick poke through my larder proved I had neither of those. So, we had naked yakisoba.
Now we watch telly and play with the baby girl. All in all, not a terrible remedy for a bit of homesick.