Stuffy head? Allergies starting to act up? I’ve got the creeping crud, so this recipe for Szechuan chili noodles immediately caught my attention. It’s a cousin to Dan Dan noodles, but a lot simpler, with ingredients that are easier to find if you live in a western country and far fewer steps. Dan dan noodles require making the chili oil, then the meat mixture, and finally noodles and vegetables. For this recipe, you only have to make the oil and the noodles. Call it Chinese-inspired.
You can make this with ground chicken or pork, or leave it as is (fewer things to buy and cook) and have it as a vegetarian dish. I didn’t have any ground meat handy (it was all in the freezer) so I went without. If you don’t have baby bok choy, green cabbage will do just as well.
You can get pre-made chili oil, but (at least the brand I got) has an odd metallic taste that I don’t like. It’s easy enough to make yourself, and only requires one extra small bowl (no additional pots!) to hold the mixture while you make the rest of the recipe.
Now about the actual noodles. The recipe I adapted this from used what she called “wide Chinese egg noodles.” I had never seen that. I looked and couldn’t find anything easily. Then in the comments she said it was really pappardelle. OK! Easier to find (and I love pappardelle). Plus then I get to make White Ragu Pappardelle with the rest of the pasta. If you want to be more authentic, use real Chinese wheat noodles or rice noodles.
One final recipe note. The original calls for chili paste (sambal oelek), which is essentially just a jar of spicy, ground chilis. You can get it online, or check your grocer. If you can’t find it, substitute garlic chili sauce (and possibly remove the garlic clove from the recipe, depending on how spicy you like your food). If not, then substitute sriracha or even hot sauce instead.
The whole thing comes together in about 30 minutes or so.
A simpler version of dan dan noodles. This is great takeout without the wait, or having to actually go out.
1 T cooking oil
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch to 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 inch fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 T plus 1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
2 1/2 tsp water
1/2 - 1 tsp chili paste
1 scallion chopped, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup baby bok choy, chopped (or use cabbage if you prefer)
Fill a 2 quart saucepan (medium size) with water and bring to a boil.
First start by making the chili oil. You’ll need a good sized (large) skillet. Heat that over medium heat. Then add the oil, garlic, ginger, and chili. Cook, or about 5 minutes, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Stir it occasionally and keep an eye on it so the garlic doesn’t burn.
Add the sesame seeds and stir, cooking about another 30 seconds. Then carefully pour the mixture into a bowl.
The water should be boiling by now, so add the noodles and cook according to the package directions. Packaged pappardelle noodles should take about 7-10 minutes to cook. Fresh ones will cook faster, about three or four minutes.
While the noodles are cooking, in a separate, small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, chili paste, and water.
Add the scallions to the skillet you used to cook the chili oil and cook for two or three minutes. Pour the soy sauce mixture into the skillet and add the box copy. Simmer for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked. Stir the mixture occasionally so the box chop gets coated with the sauce.
Drain the noodles and add them to the skillet as well as half of the chili oil mixture. Stir everything to coat. Pour into a bowl and serve with the remaining chili oil and extra scallions.
Szechuan Chili Noodles Tools and Ingredients
Huy Fong Sambal Oelek Chili Paste
Made by the same company that produces the wildly popular sriracha sauce. This is spicier, since it has more chili in it. Put it on noodles, in omelettes, or in soup.
Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce
The same great chili paste, plus extra garlic! Use it in Pad Thai, mix into eggs, stir fries, soups, or any food that needs a kick of flavor. I sometimes put it in my caldo verde. Doesn’t have sugar (unlike the sriracha sauce) so it’s more potent (also good if you want to avoid extra sugar).
More Asian and Chinese Noodle Recipes
Chinese Chicken Noodle Cabbage Soup for One Person
Fragrant with garlic, spicy chili, and a hint of sweetness from honey, this Chinese chicken noodle cabbage soup tastes good and knocks out germs too.
Spicy Sesame Noodles Recipe
Easier than takeout, and ideal for a quick meal. All you have to cook is the noodles. A bit of chopping and arranging later you’ve got food.
Easy Singapore Noodles with Chicken
A classic dish that does two things: makes dinner and cleans out the fridge. Toss in chicken, beef, and whatever bits and pieces of veggies you have.
Spicy Beef Noodle Soup for One
A few pantry ingredients, some leftovers and you’ve got soup. And, it only takes a few minutes to make. Comforting on a cold day, or if the creeping crud or allergies are making you stuffy.