Tue 4/26/2011 9:39 AM
Bonnie Martinez [jitterbugs11(at)gmail.com]
Dear Mick,
My name is Bonnie Martinez. I was married in Naha, Okinawa on Dec. 18,1970, during the Vietnam war. I am still married (40 years) to the same man. I was only 18 years old and not a military dependent when I left Colorado and went 12,000 miles from home to marry the love of my life. I have 3 certificates of marriage, 1 from the American Counsel, 1 from the Ryukian Islands, and 1 from the Okinawa Government.
We were so poor in those days. My husband was only an Airman back then. We lived off base for over 2 years. I often made Yakisoba almost every night, with bologna, or other lunch meat, leftover veggies, or any meat I had left on hand. Ramen soup noodle packages were only 2 cents a package at the commissary.
I still love Yakisoba , and so does my husband. I am so glad you mentioned the Otafuku stir fry sauce, I had forgotten what it was called.
My neighbor and friend Yasko taught me how to make some home style everyday meals. She made these meatballs using panko bread crumbs soaked in milk. She added the ground beef, chopped onion, ajinomoto (msg), salt, pepper, squirt of ketchup, garlic, Worcestershire Sauce, tsp. of sugar, and egg. She rolled them into 2 inch balls and fried them, until golden brown , then took them out of the pan and added the chopped cabbage and onion to the pan stir frying the cabbage and onion until al dente, she then added a little water, a half of can of tomato puree, a splash of rice wine vinegar, a little Aji- Mirin, and just a splash of Japanese wine or sake. I am not sure which one.
My question to you is, do you know what common Japanese wine or Saki is used in their cooking? This was a delicious dish. She would serve this with steamed rice. It was kind of like sweet and sour meatballs over rice.
Another friend of mine from Okinawa, named Hediko, made her version of Sukiaki , (she pronounced it ski-aki) . In her wok she would stir fry very thin slices of beef seasoned with Ajinomoto, a teaspoon of soy sauce, garlic powder, and sugar. She took out the meat added a little veg. oil and stir fried the small peeled cubed potatoes, then added zucchini cut into thin strips , thinly sliced onions, fresh sliced mushrooms, and fresh bean sprouts. She would put a hunk of butter in this and add again Ajinomoto, sugar, salt pepper, ground red pepper ( cayenne) and ground ginger. She took in out of the wok and than added I believe they were mustard greens ( a huge bowl full) seasoned with garlic, msg, salt ,sugar, stir frying until they were all wilted . Shen then put everything back into the wok and served it with fried rice, but only with a little fried egg, bits of spring onion (green onion) and chopped fresh shrimp in it. It was delicious! Much better than Benihanna!
We lived above a restaurant, and you could go down to the restaurant and get a huge bowl of Soba ( a delicious bowl of noodles, meat, and vegetables, with hard boiled egg on top, in a yummy seasoned broth for only 50 cents), a culinary wonder!
My memories of Okinawa are very fond ones and living off base interacting with the gracious people of Okinawa , learning their customs ,religion, and wonderful complex culinary cuisine was a true joy in my life. They were truly Island people, loving, hard working ,giving, and friendly. Thank you for your wonderful recipes and memories!
Bonnielea Martinez

(Reply) Hello, Bonnie,
What a nice message you have sent! Thank you for visiting ClickOkinawa.com and for your correspondence. I'm going to have to try some of the recipes you have described here. Much sounds familiar but just enough difference that I am curious.
Regarding your inquiry re what Japanese cooking wine is typically used - as far as I know Mirin (a sweetened sake) is the most commonly used product. Plain sake can be substituted but isn't as sweet and has a higher alcohol content. If you want to use sake, but still like the sweetness of rice wine (mirin) then you could bring sake to just a boil then add some sugar to it.
You should be able to find Mirin at any major grocery store in the ethnic foods / Asian cooking section.
Congratulations on your 40 years of marriage! I'm one year behind, I guess, as I was married in 1972 and still am - to the same girl! We had our birth sons born on Okinawa in 1973 and 1975. We adopted one of our daughters (from The Philippines) in Japanese Family Court in Ginowan.
Well, I'm going to post your comments on the website and hope to hear from you again. Please visit ClickOkinawa.com often and feel free, please, to send comments and inquiries whenever it suits you.
I hope you enjoyed a happy and relaxing Easter weekend!
Kindest regards,

From: Jean Murray [jeanpmurray(at)gmail.com]
Wed 10/20/2010 9:27 PM
I found your method very helpful-I have always fought with the noodles, trying to stir fry them, and they get broken. And you're right about the veggies! So thanks.
Here's a recipe for the sauce that I found on tastebook.com that I like:

cup Japanese soy sauce
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs Japanese rice vinegar
1 tbs sake
1 tbs mirin
1 tbs tomato sauce
1 tbs oyster sauce
2 tsp soft brown sugar
Chilli to taste
Ginger to taste

From: Ben Allen [mailto:bensallen(at)yahoo.com]
Sent: Monday, September 27, 2010 1:04 PM
To: mickmc@bresnan.net
Subject: about your yakisoba
Loved it! I served two tours on Okinawa, one at Camp Hansen and one at Futenma. I LIVED on Yaki-Soba while I was there and was anxious to try your recipe. I live in Central Arkansas and couldn't find the sauce at grocery stores here but my job takes me to Ft Huachuca and I found the sauce there and brought two bottles home. It and your recipe were DELICIOUS!!! Anxious to try your fried rice recipe. Thanks a bunch for the recipes!!
Ben Allen, C.B.T
Director of Technical Operations
Bushtex, Inc.
Sender: Doug Kempf
Subject: About Your Yakisoba
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2010 19:58:50 -0700

I was stationed at the Naval Hospital on Okinawa from 1992-1994. Our lunchroom cook made yakisoba on Wednesdays. He made a big batch because he had a big grill. He used hot dogs, which he sliced lengthwise without cutting completely through them. He pressed the opened side of the dogs down on the grill, then turned them over and grilled the rounded side. He sliced them diagonally. He used Bulldog sauce.

When I make yakisoba, I grill or fry hot dogs to recreate the taste I knew in Okinawa. I use precooked noodles I get at the commissary. Here's my recipe for sauce (no ketchup, thank you):

1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tsp sesame oil

Beat sugar, water, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce until sugar dissolves. Add corn starch and mix until smooth. Add sesame oil and incorporate as much as possible. Heat in microwave 30 seconds on high, remove and beat until smooth. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Doug Kempf, CAPT, USN, Ret.
San Diego

Sat, 27 Mar 2010 12:23:07
I was stationed at Kadena AFB in 1967 and the Yakisoba was the same. Just (that) there were no food trucks to get it from.
Yours is the most authentic to Okinawa. In Japan it is a little different; more dry and fish sauce tasting. Not as good as the Okinawa dish.
K. M. Gaynor, CMSgt USAF Retired
Feb 11, 2010
You got me a little closer. My time was spent as a Navy brat in Yokohama, and like you, I gained a love for Yakisoba. Your recipe is very close to what I remember. Not as sweet, but I think that is my own fault. I tasted the sauce,(Otafuku), and it is dead on. I think I just need to use a little more and it will be perfect.
Thanks for posting the recipe.
Michael Smith
Gilbert, AZ
Here's another recipe for from-scratch sauce by Namiko Chen [http://www.justonecookbook.com/how_to/yakisoba-sauce-recipe/]
Namiko says this makes about 2 Tablespoonsful. You can double or quadruple the ingredients according to how much you want to make.

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (Usutah So-su)
1 tsp. oyster sauce
1 tsp. ketchup
tsp. soy sauce
tsp. sugar
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Adjust the sauce according to your liking.

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