Traditionalists might wanna look away: this unapologetic hack on biang biang noodles might make you weep!
I’ve long heard about biang biang noodles, a Xian classic dish comprising thick, hand-pulled noodles tossed in a dangerously spicy chilli oil sauce. I first tried it at Chocha Foodstore and was blown away by how flavourful, delicious and appetizing it was!
Never crossed my mind to make it. Aiyo, who the heck has time to make their own noodles on a working weekday? Moreover, that sauce looked like it would have a mile-long list of ingredients. No thanks!
Then a couple of days ago, I watched a video by School of Wok. Chef Jeremy demonstrated a really simple way of making the sauce. Bonus: it had a super SHORT ingredient list. But the noodles … hmm, would it work with pasta?
Only one way to find out. This is what I did.
1. Chop spring onions, both white and green parts, finely.
2. Chop garlic finely.
3. Place both spring onions and garlic in a bowl, and add a tsp of chilli powder (or chilli flakes).
4. Heat up some oil until very hot and pour over the aromatics. This is to remove their rawness and release their flavour.
5. Add equal amounts of black chinkiang vinegar and light soya sauce. You might want to start with 1 tbsp of each, and gradually add more depending on your tolerance for saltiness.
6. To serve, toss cooked pasta in the sauce and top with pounded groundnuts. Feel free to supplement with vegetables of your choice. Aside from the usual green leafy vegetables like bok choy, I’ve discovered that mushrooms go really well because they are flavour sponges.
Done, in less than 15 minutes!
This outrageously super simple version might be sacrilegious to the original chefs in China (sorry!!) but hey, to this Malaysian home cook, this satisfied all my savoury and spicy cravings. I figure pasta works since it’s primarily made from wheat flour, which contains gluten and thus also provides a reasonable chewiness.
Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Good luck!
Fun fact: The dish is also renowned for its special character. Considered the most complex Chinese character, “biang” can have up to 71 strokes, depending on the variation. It’s so complicated that until today, the character can’t be written by a computer!