Recipe Difficulty: Easy
These noodles aren't going to win an award for their visual appeal, but in this instance, I don't care about that. It's a delicious meal, and has become something I make for myself almost weekly. Once you have a batch of the Szechuan chili oil made, you can make this meal in less than 30 minutes. The chili oil is best after it sits a week or so, but a batch lasts a really long time, and is delicious drizzled over all sorts of dishes for added flavour and heat. When I'm getting low, I make another batch immediately.
This recipe isn't my creation. It is from "To Asia with Love" Cookbook by Hetty McKinnon. I suppose I have adapted the method a bit, and I gravitate towards using peanut butter instead of tahini, and kale instead of broccoli or brussels sprouts. I've tried all the suggestions in the book. I also like to add in cubed tofu sometimes. I've tossed in eggplant before as well. It doesn't really matter. As long as you end up with ramen noodles that are coated with delicious spiced oil. nut butter, add the right amount of noodle cooking water so the noodles aren't dry, you will have something tasty to look forward to. I don't really measure all of my ingredients, so the recipe is a bit loose in that sense, made to taste, but it's really easy to do.
1. Make Szechuan Chili Oil a head of time.
The star of this recipe is this Szechuan chili oil. It's so delicious, and takes the guess work out of making a tasty bowl of noodles when the craving, or need for a quick meal, strikes. It does have heat, so if you aren't a fan of spice this might not be for you. Even though I find it has a decent kick, and I consider myself to have a low to medium tolerance for spice, there's something different about this compared to just adding a butch of hot sauce to something. It's flavoured with Szechuan, gochujang powder, chili flakes, chopped garlic, ginger, star anise and cinnamon, and is incredibly delicious. This is the only make ahead part.
While you can start using the oil probably after a couple days, and I do, but the flavour and spice improves and deepens over time. For this reason, I don't strain the oil right away, and instead if I want to use some, I just spoon a little bit through a strainer because I want to avoid pieces of the peppercorn in my food. I tried that and the chunks of Szechuan peppercorns were just kind of harsh and not delicious. After a month or so I did strain the oil into a clean glass jar so it was easier to utilize.
You can find Szechuan peppercorns and gochugaru (also known as korean chili powder) in Asian markets (I just ask for help locating ingredients when I go), or possibly in the international section of some grocery stores. I'm sure you could find them both on Amazon, if needed, too.
2. Cook the Kale
First, cook kale in a bit of water. I add in a few cloves of chopped garlic, too. The original recipe calls for charred broccoli. There is already a lot of oil in the recipe, so I prefer to keep my greens oil free by steaming them in a pan. Just add a splash of water at a time until the kale is cooked and wilted. Cutting the kale in small pieces makes it easier to eat and chew.
3. Cook the Ramen Noodles
Grab a couple "pieces" of thick cut ramen noodles (I don't know what to call them, squares? they come pre-formed in a big bag. Pretty sure it is a standard thing) The ones I buy are 63 grams each. Cook them in boiling water with a bit of salt. Don't dump them out into a strainer.
4. Dress Noodles & kale with peanut butter and flavoured oils.
Use tongs to transfer them to the pan with your kale. Add a couple small ladle fulls of noodle cooking water.
Add peanut butter (Make sure the peanut butter is natural, and drizzly. Too stiff you will never get it mixed in.
Then add a small drizzle of sesame oil, and several swirls of the Szechuan Oil. Mix to combine. The noodle water you add helps create a sauce. They would be too dry otherwise. Taste a noodle. They should coat your lips with delicious oils/nut butter. If you can't taste the Szechuan oil, add a bit more.
5. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, chopped green onion & fresh cilantro. Enjoy!
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Hey! I'm Trisha