So what happened was:
I fell into a bit of a takeout habit. On a whim, I added the veggie udon to our order from our sushi place (treat yourself) and a love story was born. I found myself unable to stop thinking about the thick (and I mean really, really thick) chewy udon noodles, slicked in an umami-rich sauce and speckled aggressively with freshly ground black pepper, stir-fried with a nice medley of veggies for color and, like, health, I guess? and I realized I needed to figure out how to make this at home.
Well, not MAKE them make them. This is the SOS series, as you may remember. More of like, put some pre-cooked things in a pan and “make them.”
Which actually works perfectly because I learned that a lot of grocery stores sell PRE-COOKED UDON NOODLES that are just vacuum-packed, waiting to be taken to your house and added straight to a sizzling skillet. And I also learned that the sauce used for yaki udon (stir fried udon) is actually relatively simple – just 4 main ingredients.
Our Ingredient List For This Stir Fried Udon Is Simple
Here is what we are working with for our short and friendly ingredient list:
- udon noodles
- a bag of stir fry vegetables
- dark soy sauce
- oyster sauce
- rice vinegar
This is assuming you already have oil and brown sugar and black pepper. Just you wait. YUMMM.
Okay. If I’m speaking honestly, I was very skeptical of the taste and texture of pre-cooked noodles in a plastic package. I really was.
Pre-SOS-times, I may have even just said no thanks, that’s gross, I don’t want to eat noodles that are just vacuum-packed in plastic and somehow shelf-stable? But I’m happy to report what many of you probably already know which is that they are, in fact, so totally delicious.
There Are Lots Of Options When It Comes To Udon Noodles
We tried several varieties of udon noodles in our testing for this recipe. Here’s the breakdown:
- Refrigerated (fresh) udon: we were able to find these at a mainstream grocery store, near the tofu in the refrigerated / produce section. Technically, these are soup packages so they come with a flavor package that we discarded. The noodles were totally thick and chewy. Would definitely recommend.
- Pre-packaged shelf-stable udon: we were able to find these at a mainstream grocery store too, near the dry packages of ramen, and also bought some on Amazon. Technically these are soup packages so they come with a flavor package that we discarded. The ones we bought on Amazon were excellent. But the ones at the grocery store were not very good. It was the only batch we had that tasted “off”, like maybe the noodles were old and not very fresh anymore. (This would make sense given that I don’t think this is a popular item at our grocery store and probably had been hanging around for quite a while, whereas the Amazon variety probably ships out more frequently and therefore is fresher. Just my hypothesis.) The noodles were thick and chewy and I would definitely recommend if you can find them from a place where you know they are relatively fresh.
- Dry udon: we bought these noodles on Amazon. They come in little stick-like bundles, like dry ramen. They were not as round and chewy as the other udon noodles – they have more of a semi-thick flat shape. But they were definitely still very yummy and really carb-licious. While the texture isn’t the same as the classic udon (or at least what I think of as classic udon), the flavor was REALLY GOOD. I felt like because they were boiled fresh right before eating, they were like little sponges to absorb more of the sauce. I found these to be very sticky, almost like pad thai noodles, so if you use these, you might want to give them a rinse before adding to the stir fry pan. Overall would definitely recommend!
Okay, last thing: I think this would be incomplete if I didn’t tell you that my favorite thing about this whole recipe is that when you let the noodles rest in the pan for a few minutes as you cook them, they get a little bit caramelized and browned on the outside and the contrast of that pan-fried goodness with the thick, chewy, slippery noodles is just texturally so wonderful.
I mean… look at it.
Do you want to live in this pan of noodles with me? Check yes or no.
Black Pepper Stir Fried Udon: FAQs
If you can’t find dark soy sauce, regular soy sauce will still taste great (we tested and can confirm). However, dark soy sauce is more concentrated and really does make a difference for how much the flavor saturates into the noodles. We ended up finding some dark soy sauce at an Indian / Asian grocery store near us! But Amazon sells it, too.
I often find that I have a little extra sauce, too. No problem, it can be saved in the fridge for a half-batch or full-batch later on!
You can definitely add a protein if you want! I love veggie noodle stir fries, but true yaki udon (the Japanese name for this dish) usually includes meat of some kind. I would think chicken or shrimp would be great. I also made a version of this with tofu kind of scrambled into a ground-meat-like consistency that was really yummy.
You can find it at most bigger / chain grocery stores down the sauce aisle (usually by the soy sauce) or a local Asian grocery store likely sells it as well. If you can’t find it, hoisin sauce would probably be the best sub.
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Source notes: Yaki Udon is the Japanese name for this recipe – although I don’t claim this to be anything other than myself taking a stab at a homemade version of the noodles I’ve fallen in love with from the strip mall sushi-and-noodle place we love here in little old Roseville, Minnesota (Kyoto Sushi for those who are local). They LOAD UP on the black pepper in their udon stir fry and I love it so much. Yaki Udon is, according to Wikipedia, often served in Japan at pubs as a late-night snack, which is so fun and makes me love it all the more. I’ve eaten and appreciated udon but never actually made it before now, so I used Jamie’s 5-star yaki udon recipe from Drive Me Hungry as a sauce springboard, which was just as awesome as I expected. I upped the amounts just slightly because, well, too much of a good thing is sometimes… a good thing.Print
This Black Pepper Stir Fried Udon is the perfect SOS dinner! Saucy udon noodles, dark soy sauce, stir fry veggies, fresh garlic, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. So easy!
- 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce (see FAQs if using regular soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Udon Stir Fry:
- a little bit of neutral oil
- 2 cups of stir fry veggies (I use about half of a bag of a frozen stir fry veggie blend)
- two 7-ounce packages of udon noodles (the cooked, fat, squishy ones – see FAQs)
- 1–2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- a ton of freshly ground black pepper
- Sauce: Shake up all the sauce ingredients in a jar.
- Noodles: Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add a swish of oil. Add the noodles and enough sauce to coat. Stir-fry until nice and yummy. (They’ll get kind of caramelized if you leave them undisturbed for a minute or two – so good.)
- Veggies: Add the veggies and pour a little more sauce over everything (it’s okay if you don’t use all of it -it’ll keep in the fridge for a second batch later). Toss it around for 2-3 minutes until the veggies are fork-tender and everything is looking browned and sticky and pan-fried to perfection.
- Finish: Remove from heat and stir in some freshly grated garlic and A TON of freshly ground black pepper. (I mean, yes, pull some out for the kids first so it’s not too spicy, but then PEPPER THAT UP.) The smell of the fresh garlic hitting the pan. The steamy noodle pulls. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for.
If you have extra udon noodles and/or want to make this more than once, double or triple your sauce for later! It makes this the fastest meal of all time.
There is sugar in the sauce which can burn so don’t leave your noodles sitting undisturbed in the hot pan for too long or your caramelization will turn to burning.
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Asian-Inspired
Keywords: udon noodles, black pepper udon, stir fry
More Asian-Inspired Noodles We Love
- Coconut Curry Ramen (golden broth and rich flavor? yes please!)
- Spicy Peanut Soba Noodle Salad (peanutty, noodley, and sooo delish)
- Chili Garlic Instant Pot Noodles (just 3 minutes in the Instant Pot!)
- Spring Roll Bowls with Sweet Garlic Lime Sauce (your new fresh and completely meatless friend)