Editor’s note: The theme of Gohan Lab is to help people make simple, tasty “gohan” (meals).

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Fried noodles are the focus this week of our series on popular staple dishes. Chinese noodles sold in packets with sauce are naturally enjoyable, but a simple cooking step results in chewy noodles that taste quite authentic.

Katsuhiko Yoshida, a chef of Chinese cuisine, recommends a method where fresh noodles (called “nama-men” as opposed to the “mushi-men,” literally steamed noodles) are steamed before being fried. Admittedly, the elasticity of the noodles is completely different. The ingredients to be added were kept simple.

When cooking, a key is not to move the noodles around too much after placing them in the frying pan. This is to lightly brown the part touching the pan yet keep the center of the noodles soft.

After the ingredients are added, mix thoroughly. By the time the liquid disappears, you end up with umami from the enoki mushroom and beansprouts that are nice and crisp.

This week’s Gohan Lab is the last that will involve Yoshida. His message to readers is, “What you cook may not turn out well the first time, but try again and again. Enjoy cooking.”


(Supervised by Katsuhiko Yoshida in the cooking aspect and Midori Kasai in the cookery science aspect)

Tips on making fried noodles (Masahiro Goda)

* Ingredients (Serve one)

100 grams fresh Chinese noodles (“nama-men” type), 50 grams beansprouts, 30 grams enoki mushroom, 3 stalks nira. Seasonings (1 tsp sugar, 2 Tbsp sake, 2 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp oyster sauce), 2 Tbsp cooking oil

About 580 kcal and 2.7 grams salt per portion

1. Cut nira into 3-cm-long pieces. Rinse beansprouts. Cut off root part of enoki and separate stems.

PHOTO A: Boil water in a frying pan and set steamer when steam rises. Spread noodles so they do not overlap and place lid. (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

2. To get moist finish, plunge noodles in water and drain. Pour water in frying pan to 2 cm in depth and turn on heat. When steam starts rising, set steamer, spread noodles inside, place lid and steam for 3 minutes on medium heat (PHOTO A). Remove steamer and pour out water from pan.

PHOTO B: After spreading the noodles in the frying pan, brown them without moving them around too much. This way, the noodles form a mass and turning becomes easy. (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

3. Pour oil in pan and place on high heat. When oil has warmed, add steamed noodles and turn down to low heat. Turn when one side is lightly brown (PHOTO B).

PHOTO C: Once seasonings are added, use chopsticks to thoroughly loosen noodles that have formed a mass. (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

4. Place nira, beansprouts, enoki and 100 ml water on noodles and turn up to high heat. Add seasonings and stir-fry (PHOTO C). When liquid comes to a boil, lower to medium heat and keep cooking until almost no liquid remains.

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Katsuhiko Yoshida is the owner chef of Jeeten, a restaurant in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Uehara offering Chinese home cooking.

Midori Kasai is a professor emerita at Ochanomizu University and former chairwoman of the Japan Society of Cookery Science.


Salad with steamed noodles (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

Salad with steamed noodles (Serves one)

Plunge 100 grams fresh Chinese noodles in water, drain and steam on medium heat for 3 minutes. If noodles are thick, steam for 1 or 2 minutes longer. Place 30 grams canned tuna (type packed in oil), 1/3 pack radish sprout (“kaiware”), sliced 1/4 newly harvested onion, a pinch of salt, 2 Tbsp water, 1 tsp sesame oil in bowl and mix. Add steamed noodles and mix.


The Asahi Shimbun

Immediately after the noodles are boiled, their outer area contains more water and the core contains less. This is generally regarded as “tasty.” But as the water in the outer area starts to permeate to the core, the noodles become soggy. When steamed, there is less water in the outer area than when noodles are boiled. The noodles are less likely to turn soggy and turn out springy when pan-fried.

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From The Asahi Shimbun’s Gohan Lab column