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Just Do It: Xi'an-Style Hot Oil Noodles
Proceed with caution
When I was a restaurant critic in Pittsburgh, I was smitten with the city’s Chinese restaurant scene. I’m not kidding: It’s very diverse as far as regional cuisine and really phenomenal. One of the restaurants I loved is a Sichuan spot where the chef has been nominated for a James Beard and I miss his food all the time. But for the purpose of quick hits to make at home, I’m thinking of a different spot— what had been a Japanese place called Sakura Teppanyaki and Sushi, run by my friends, Fenping Geng and Feng Gao. Sure you could get sushi, but the most exciting parts of the menu were the Chinese dishes inspired by their hometown, near Xi’an in the Shaanxi province. (The restaurant has since gone all-in when it comes to food from Xi’an, having changed its name to Amazing Dumplings.)
I miss their hot oil noodles the most and it’s a very simple dish. I haven’t been to Pittsburgh in a couple years (I’m on track to go this month) — and I wanted something close to Ping’s version.
Then, I called my friend Ping and asked her how she and her husband do it. Her words of advice: Use Korean chile powder, layer it with the noodles, garlic, and scallions, and pour a little bit of hot oil at a time.
A couple of other notes. This is actually a very easy recipe that is based mostly on pantry items. And two, be super careful since the recipe calls for very hot oil.
Hot Oil Noodles
Time: 15 minutes
4 oz. dried wheat noodles
a handful of leafy greens (choy sum, spinach, or baby bok choy)
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar
Crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 1/2 tablespoons oil
1. Boil the noodles according to package directions until al dente. In the same pot, blanch the leafy greens until cooked through. Drain.
2. Add the cooked noodles and greens to a heatproof bowl, along with the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, scallion, cilantro, and minced garlic.
3. In a small pot, heat the oil until shimmering. Carefully pour the hot oil over the bowl of noodles, and mix everything together. Serve.