Citizens, one of the simplest Chinese noodle recipes enjoyed by TFD is 葱油拌面 – noodles tossed in scallion oil. Using only the most basic ingredients of noodles, scallions and oil, this is a delicious dish infused with the aroma and flavor of scallion oil (葱油) as well as oyster sauce and soy sauce.
This is a classic street breakfast meal in Taipei, and is enjoyed by millions of Taiwanese with gusto – it is certainly an easy and fragrant dish to add to your own repertoire!
For this dish, fresh Shanghai Noodles are best – in Chinese, they’re called “阳春面.” These are alkaline noodles made with kansui, very similar to ramen noodles. If you’re wondering what kansui is, it’s the ingredient that makes all the noodle magic happen.
The story goes that the unique noodles produced around lake Kan in Inner-Mongolia were attributed to the water from the lake. Modern science has since revealed that the lake is highly alkaline, which is what gives the noodles their unique texture and color.
You can now buy factory produced “kansui” (lake kan water) either in powdered or liquid form. Koon Chun brand labels their product as Potassium Carbonate Sodium Bi-Carbonate.
This is a more scientific explanation behind how kansui works: Kansui is a mixture of sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate which form an alkaline solution (pH ~9) when mixed with water. Wheat flour contains a number of compounds called flavones and trans-ferulic acid which are bound to starch and therefore colorless or white.
The addition of an alkaline solution to wheat flour changes the pH of the mixture which in turn detaches these flavones (specifically apigenin glycosides) and trans-ferulic acid from starch and allows their natural yellow color to manifest.
The TFD special touch to this classic recipe is mixing a bit of duck fat in with the oil. I find it adds an incredible savor, but fear not – you can skip it and still have a delicious meal, Citizens! ☺
4 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons duck fat (preferred), chicken fat or peanut oil
4 stalks scallion, cut into small rounds
1 pound fresh noodles
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce or to taste
1 cup shredded pork
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
For the pork, combine cornstarch, salt and soy sauce, beat together and add pork. Marinate 30 minutes – 1 hour in the fridge.
Heat up fat and oil in a pan and put the green onion pieces in. Use the lowest heat to simmer until the green onions are deep-browned and almost burnt. Transfer all the contents out. Return some scallion oil back to the pan, and then add optional marinated shredded pork to fry until cooked. Remove and reserve.
Heat up a pot of water until it boils. Cook the fresh noodles al dente. The noodles should be cooked through but still somewhat firm and springy. Drain the noodles and transfer into a serving bowl.
Add the scallion oil, oyster sauce, and soy sauce into the noodles. Using a pair of chopsticks, toss the noodles to blend well with the scallion oil and soy and oyster sauces. Serve immediately topped with the optional cooked pork.