Springy egg noodles slicked with hot, savoury Chiu Chow chilli oil, topped with everything you like. Fast and satisfying.
It is deeply remiss that I have been keeping this recipe from you. I suppose it’s not so much a recipe as an arrangement, a friendly suggestion, one of those things which makes people say, ‘Huh, I could’ve thought of that,’ only with a touch of gratitude rather than disdain.
This is a dish for any weather. It’s delicious cold, warm, or at room temperature. I thought I’d let you know about it now, since it’s getting hot and you’ll want something quick and flexible. You just boil noodles, stir together a little sauce, choose some toppings, then toss everything together and eat. Hardly any cooking time, and it can be made cold or hot as you want.
In Thailand, this is called bamee haeng, dry egg noodles, since it’s served without soup. It’s usual for the noodles to be tossed in sweetly pungent fried garlic oil and then individual diners add powdered chilli to taste at the table. But my dad has always made it this way for me, starting off with chilli and finishing with even more chilli, because neither of us can really help ourselves in this respect.
It’s completely up to you how involved the final dish is. I’ve simply listed some possibilities, not hard rules, so don’t be intimidated by the ingredients list. Pick and choose as you wish, adjusting amounts to suit your appetite for a complete meal in a bowl. It’s a great way to use up leftovers and other odds and ends.
The most usual toppings in Thailand include varying combinations of sliced cha siu or crispy pork, cooked wontons, crispy wonton skins, fish balls, just-cooked pork mince, and crushed peanuts. But you needn’t be limited by that.
To give you ideas, these are the toppings I’ve had this week:
- Little gem lettuce, slices of leftover cold grilled pork and crispy roast pork belly.
- Shallow-fried firm tofu, crispy fried egg.
- Dry-toasted mushrooms tossed with shoyu, shredded raw carrot.
One thing. Unless you particularly like them, please, please don’t use fresh egg noodles you get in mainstream supermarkets. They lack the spring of the fresh egg noodles you get in Asian shops. You should be able to get the specified noodles in the cooler section of most East/Southeast Asian shops. It’s worth mentioning that egg noodles keep for a good week or so in the fridge, and can be kept frozen for a month, defrosting easily. If you can’t get egg noodles, other kinds of fresh or dried noodles will also be delicious, but obviously it won’t be bamee haeng.
FRESH EGG NOODLES WITH CHILLI-GARLIC OIL
Makes 1 bowl to generously satisfy 1 person.
For more traditional bamee haeng, simply omit the chilli oil and use only fried garlic oil.
Note: the Chiu Chow chilli oil I use is by Lee Kum Kee, easily found in mainstream and of course Asian supermarkets. It’s got lots of sediment and is smoky, salty, and spicy. There’s already soy sauce in the ingredients. Taste the chilli oil you’ve got and adjust as needed, or make your own.
On the subject of home made chilli oil, it’s very easy to make and keeps well in the fridge, so go for it! I’m partial to this chilli oil by Mandy at Lady & Pups, fragrant with cumin, sichuan pepper, and sesame. I’d also love to try Leela’s chilli oil with long peppers, too.
If you can’t find egg noodles, a serving of other noodles you like will also be delicious, though obviously it won’t be bamee haeng. Use the same weight of fresh rice noodles (sen yai are gorgeous), 50g – 75g dried rice noodles or 40g – 50g glass noodles, for example.
1 dsp (or 1/2 tbsp) light soy sauce
1 heaped dsp (or 1/2 tbsp) Chiu Chow chilli oil sediment, or similar (see note)
2 tsp fried garlic and its oil
Dash of ground white pepper
Dash of Chiangking or balsamic vinegar
Pinch of sugar to taste
75g – 100g thin fresh egg noodles, depending on how hungry you are and how many toppings you want (or about 50g – 75g dried egg noodles)
toppings (choose at least 2 – 3 the following; if you’re choosing lots, use smaller amounts):
1 finely sliced spring onion
As many finely chopped fresh chillies as you like (I like 3 bird’s eye)
A few springs coriander, finely sliced
Sprinkling of crushed roast peanuts
An egg, crisply fried or medium/soft-boiled
Handful of beansprouts, shredded raw salad leaves, or wilted greens of your choice
Handful of raw or cooked tofu (how about crispy baked tofu?)
2 handfuls of sliced mushrooms and/or broccoli, well browned and tossed with a little soy sauce
Handful of sliced/shredded leftover roast meat or just ham out of the packet
Boiled or fried wonton dumplings
50g – 100g cooked mince
2 – 3 tbsp pork or chicken crackling
Crispy deep fried wonton skins
Meat or fishballs
Bring a medium pot of water to the boil.
While that’s happening, prepare the sauce. Get out your favourite noodle bowl or dish, add all of the sauce ingredients, and mix until smooth. Taste, adjusting seasonings if needed. Done.
Prepare your toppings, using the boiling water to heat things through if needed. Finely shred your spring onion, chilli, and coriander. Cut meat, tofu, veg, etc into bite-size pieces. Cook or reheat your eggs, mushrooms, meatballs, wontons. Wilt your vegetables. Have toppings ready on your chopping board.
Bring the water to a full rolling boil again. Lightly separate egg noodles strands with your fingers and add to the pot. Once water returns to a simmer, cook noodles for 30 seconds (stirring and adjusting heat so it doesn’t foam over) before draining immediately. If using dried, cook according to packet instructions. Rinse cooked noodles thoroughly under hot water if you want warm noodles or cold if you want a cool dish. Press well to get rid of any water, then transfer to your noodle bowl and toss immediately in the sauce, coating every single strand.
Arrange your toppings in the bowl. Add more seasonings if you wish; I like an extra sprinkle of chilli powder and a drizzle touch more chilli oil. Toss again and eat.