There comes a time in every home cook’s life where you have to decide what to do with all the odds and ends in the fridge. Do you throw it out, save it for later, or try to cobble a meal together? Luckily, this clean-out-the-fridge stir-fry udon noodle recipe is perfect for these situations. It’s flexible enough for a variety of vegetables, can be substituted with different proteins, and makes a quick and satisfying meal for the family.
What makes this stir-fry udon noodle recipe so tasty is the texture of the udon noodles themselves. They are chewy but easily slurped up with the sauce. It is important to buy the right type of udon noodles. Avoid the vac-packed shelf stable noodles and get the frozen type in the freezer aisle. They cook up really quickly and have a nice chewy texture.
This stir-fry udon noodle recipe using instant dashi seasoning to infuse the dish with a rich, savoury, and satisfying flavour. If you’ve never tried using dashi seasoning, I would highly recommending adding it to your kitchen pantry. Dashi is a broth made from kombu and dried bonito. The instant version is convenient and can found in most Asian grocery stores. It instantly adds flavour to a soup base and is used in many Japanese dishes.
For vegetables, I always have onions and carrots on hand. The rest of the vegetables are really up to you. Nappa cabbage, mushrooms, a handful of snap peas, half a red pepper, zucchini or broccoli? It can really vary depending on what vegetables you have on hand. Just be sure to cut the vegetables to approximately the same size and start cooking the tougher ones (like cabbage) first before adding the softer veggies (like mushrooms, peppers, and snap peas).
Meats are equally as flexible. In this recipe, I used chicken with some bacon, but you can substitute with sliced beef, shrimp, and even tofu skin for a meatless option.
Chicken, Bacon, and Vegetable Stir-Fry Udon: Recipe Instructions
In this example, I decided to use chicken and bacon. Start by dicing the 3 skinless, boneless chicken thighs. Combine with 1 tbsp of cooking wine, 1 tbsp of fish sauce and 1 tbsp of corn starch. The corn starch helps seal the chicken and keeps it moist when cooking. Set aside to let it marinade.
This marinade works for other meats like pork, beef or shrimp. If you are using tofu skin, just cut the tofu skin to bite sized piece and skip the marinade.
Also prepare the vegetables you want to add to the stir fry. This is a great opportunity to sneak in a lot of different vegetables for your unsuspecting kids. This time I was able to put in over 6 different types of vegetables! I always have some carrots, and cabbage on hand because they keep for a long time in the fridge. Try to cut the veggies to about the same size so they cook evenly. I usually like shredding the cabbage to the same thickness as the udon so it blends in.
Heat the wok to high heat and add 1 tbsp of oil to coat the wok. Add the diced bacon and stir until the lightly browned.
Then add the marinaded chicken and sear until brown. If it starts to stick, I add a bit of water to the wok and slowly deglaze the pan while still cooking the chicken. With the added water and corn starch, the juice from the chicken starts to thicken as it cooks. Once cooked through, remove from the wok and set aside.
Add 1 tbsp of oil to the wok and add the onions and carrots. Cook for 1 minute to soften them up a bit. Then add the cabbage and 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Cover and let the cabbage steam for 3-5 minutes.
Add the rest of the vegetables to the wok with another 1/2 cup of chicken broth and mix. Cover for about 2 mins to let the new vegetables cook.
Push the frozen udon noodle portion underneath the vegetables in the wok one at a time. If there is not much liquid covering the noodles, add a bit of chicken stock. Cover for a few minutes until the udon noodles have melted. Mix the noodles and vegetables together.
Continue adding the frozen udon noodle portions until all the udon has defrosted and heated up. Adding chicken stock or water just to keep the noodles wet, but not soaking in liquid. As more noodles are added and mixed, the water will start thickening and turn into a sauce for the noodles.
Once all the udon noodles have soften, add about 1-2 tsp of dashi seasoning, 1 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of fish sauce, and 2 tbsp of sesame oil and mix. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve immediately.
Clean-out-the-Fridge Stir-Fry Udon Noodles
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 package frozen udon noodles – 1 package should have 5 fozen portions inside
- 4-5 pieces shitake mushrooms -sliced
- 1 medium cooking onion -sliced
- 1 carrot -cut into thin strips
- 1.5 cups snap peas
- 1 red pepper -sliced
- 1 crown broccoli -cut into small bite sized pieces
- 1/4 head of a nappa cabbage -sliced into strips
- 1.5 tbsp bonito dashi stock seasoning
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1-2 tbsp soy sauce
For the meat or tofu
- 3 skinless, boneless chicken thighs -cut into bite sized pieces, or substitute with tofu skin or meat of choice
- 3 slices bacon – diced
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp chinese cooking wine
- 1 tbsp corn starch
Cooking the meat/protein
- in a small dish, combine the meat with the cooking wine, fish sauce and corn starch and mix together, set aside for later
- heat up the wok and add a little bit of oil. Add bacon bits and fry until lightly browned. Remove bacon bits from wok, but leave oil in wok
- add chicken to the wok and stir fry until cooked. If it sticks or is burning before it fully cooked, add a bit of water and deglaze the pan as you stir. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove from the wok and set aside
Cooking the vegetables
- heat up the work and add 1 tbsp of oil. Add onions and carrots to wok and cook until softened
- add the sliced cabbage to the wok and mix. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and cover with the lid for a few minutes until the cabbage has softened, about 3-5 minutes
- add mushrooms, snap peas, peppers, broccoli, and any other remaining vegetable with 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Mix together and cover with the lid for 2 minutes until soft.
Add the udon noodles
- Push the frozen udon noodle portion underneath the vegetables in the wok one at a time. If there is not much liquid covering the noodles, add a bit of chicken stock. Cover for a few minutes until the udon noodles have melted. Mix the noodles and vegetables together
- Continue adding the frozen udon noodle portions until all the udon has defrosted and heated up, adding chicken stock or water as needed.
Seasoning the udon noodles
- add the bonito dashi seasoning, soy sauce, sesame oil, and fish sauce and mix. Adjust to taste.