5 Minute Japanese Meal — Niku Udon (Beef Noodles)

5 Minute Japanese Meal — Niku Udon (Beef Noodles)

One thing that has changed since PM Abe’s declaration of a State of Emergency is that I now have more time to cook and bake. I often share my creations on Instagram and this particular 5 minute Japanese meal — niku udon (beef noodles) — received a lot of positive response after I posted it on my stories. 

(Obligatory 300-400 word food backstory… This post contains affiliate links.)

Niku udon is seriously my favorite dish to make simply because it literally only takes 5 minutes to prepare. Plus it combines two of my favorite things: udon noodles and yakiniku.

Yakiniku is a style of barbecue where thinly sliced beef is dipped in a tangy sauce. Udon noodles are thick, wheat noodles that can be served firm or soft. I prefer my noodles firm but let them boil a bit longer so they’ll be soft enough for Miss M to chew.

The star of this dish is an unlikely ingredient: a package of frozen beef kabli from 7-Eleven. Next time you’re there, look for 牛カルビ焼 in the frozen food section. I promise you won’t be disappointed! 

Shop Frozen, Save Time

Juggling an 8 hour work day and household chores, along with my side gig means that I need to make every moment of each day count. To do this, I rely heavily on frozen foods to cut down on food prep time! I buy my frozen goods online via the online grocer Oisix, or in person at a Lawson 100 store or 7-Eleven. 

Frozen food makes frequent appearances in my kitchen. I always stock my freezer with frozen edamame, broccoli and spinach for snacks, salads, soups, and side dishes. Miss M loves to eat frozen blueberries for dessert. In fact, 7-Eleven also sells frozen udon noodles and tsuyu for making broth and classic Japanese dishes like nikujaga. (For a more detailed look on what you can find at a Japanese kombini, or convenience store, check out my shopping guide here).

For my version of niku udon, you can use frozen, fresh, or dried udon. I tend to use frozen noodles because they’re always in stock in our freezer!

I garnish with sliced long green onions (長ネギ | naganegi) straight from my father-in-law’s garden. But, you can also find them pre-sliced in supermarkets and convenience stores throughout Japan.

I also add rehydrated wakame seaweed as it’s long been a favorite of Miss M. In addition, wakame is high in folic acid and other minerals.

To make this recipe more palatable for Miss M, I skip the onions and swap out the beef for a fish sausage that’s fortified in calcium. The sausage that I use is called “osakana uiena-“ (literally “fish wiener”).

Time to Make Niku Udon!

Ingredients (Serves 3)

3 servings of udon noodles  

100 g thinly sliced beef (ribeye or flank is ideal because of the fat content)

Yakiniku Sauce (for coating beef)

Udon Broth (For 3):

50 mL tsuyu

300 mL water


Sliced long green onions

Wakame seaweed

  1. Prepare for udon noodles by adding salt and water to a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add broth ingredients to a saucepan and let simmer.
  3. Add vegetable oil to a skillet and heat the sliced meat until cooked throughly. Drain, evenly coat with yakiniku sauce and set aside.
  4. Slice long green onions and rehydrate wakame, if necessary. If you need to rehydrate dry wakame, simply let it sit in a bowl of water for 5-10 minutes, then strain. Be careful because rehydrating dry wakame is the opposite of cooking spinach. What looks like a “pinch” of wakame can turn out to be more than you need!
  5. Add udon noodles to boiling water and bring back to boil. Cook to desired firmness/softness, strain, and rinse with cool water. 
  6. After straining noodles completely, place udon into a bowl then add enough broth to slightly cover noodles. Garnish and enjoy!

5 Minute Japanese Meal — Niku Udon (Beef Noodles)


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