These extraordinarily delicious, yet simple Garlic Noodles are a fusion Asian dish made famous by Thanh Long restaurant in San Francisco, via Kenji Lopez-Alt. Top with a fried egg and vegetables for a quick meal. Also makes an excellent Asian side dish for “anything”!
This is yet another example of an excellent fusion Asian dish that brings together Asian and Western ingredients to create something incredibly tasty. Big garlic flavours – with a secret ingredient: parmesan. Yes, you read that right! Parmesan. Mixed with Asian sauces (oyster, fish sauce and Maggi seasoning or soy sauce) and a stack of garlic, it adds a punch of savoury flavour when it melts into the sauce. And it goes amazingly well with the Asian flavours!
Ingredients in Garlic Noodles
Here’s what you need to make Garlic Noodles. There are lots of noodle options but my favourite are ramen / noodles cakes, as pictured below.
Noodles – As mentioned above, this recipe can be made with any noodles, dried or fresh (from fridge). It’s pictured below made with hokkien noodles. It can even be made with spaghetti – there’s plenty of recipes that use pasta!! But my favourite are ramen / noodles cakes, like those pictured above. The wrinkly nature of those noodles just makes the sauce cling better.
As for spaghetti – it works and tastes fine, but pasta doesn’t have the same chew that noodles do. I’d still plough ahead if I only had pasta though!
Garlic – Lots. We need 2 whole tablespoons of finely minced garlic. The garlic flavour is unmissable in this!
Fish sauce – The savoury sauce that’s got more layers of flavour than soy sauce. Though, if you don’t have it, soy sauce can be substituted. Use light or all-purpose soy sauce, not dark soy sauce (too strong). More on different soy sauce types here.
Maggi Seasoning is a savoury Asian sauce, I think of it like soy sauce + an Asian Worcestershire sauce. Find it in the Asian aisle of large grocery stores (Coles, Woolies) or Asian stores. It’s used for noodles, stir fries and it’s also the secret ingredient in Banh Mi Sauce.
Substitute with soy sauce (light or all-purpose, not dark soy). Though note if you substitute both the fish sauce and Maggie Seasoning you will start losing flavour in this dish. 🙂
Parmesan – The “secret ingredient” that adds a punch of savoury flavour and saltiness! There is subtle parmesan flavour in the dish, it’s not the dominant flavour.
Be sure to finely shred the parmesan using a microplane or similar so it melts seamlessly into the sauce. If you use store bought pre-grated (sandy type or fine batons) it won’t melt as well. But if that’s all you’ve got, I’d still make this!
Butter, not oil. Tastier!
Green onion for freshness.
How to make Garlic Noodles
In the video, you’ll see me boil the noodles then make the sauce using the same saucepan. It works fine because the sauce barely takes a minute to make. But sometimes, I’ll get the sauce going while the noodles are boiling then toss it together in a pan. Do what works for you. 🙂
Reserve noodles water – Cook the noodles per packet directions. Just before draining, scoop out a mugful of the cooking water (this is to make the sauce later). Take at least 1/2 cup or more – you need 1/4 cup for the recipe plus extra just in case.
Drain the noodles then leave in the colander while you make the sauce (it’s barely a minute).
Sauté garlic – In the same saucepan, melt the butter then sauté the garlic for 30 seconds or until it smells ridiculously good.
Sauce – Add the fish sauce, Maggi seasoning, Oyster sauce and 1/4 cup reserved noodle cooking water. Stir to combine the sauce ingredients, there’s no need to simmer or cook it.
The noodle cooking water is what makes the sauce – the starch in the water helps thicken the sauce so it clings to the noodles.
Noodles & parmesan – Add the noodles and parmesan then toss for 30 seconds or until the sauce is coating the noodles rather than pooling at the bottom of the saucepan. The parmesan will melt seamlessly into the sauce. The noodles should be slick and loose. If it gets sticky and thick (because the heat is too high / tossed for longer than needed), just add a splash of noodle cooking water to loosen it up!
Toss through green onion then serve immediately!
Make a quick meal out of these garlic noodles by adding a fried egg or slices of boiled egg, plus a side of greens. Pictured at the top is broccolini which I boiled with the noodles then tossed with Asian Sesame Dressing (which you always have in the fridge, right!).
Otherwise, this is literally the perfect side dish that will go with “any” Asian mains that needs a starchy side. I see…..Sticky Chinese Wings, Chinese BBQ Pork, Chinese BBQ Chicken, Vietnamese Lemongrass Pork Steaks, Golden Turmeric Fish or Asian Glazed Barramundi! I’m sure you’re visualising many other options. 🙂 Tell me what you see! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
- 140g/ 5oz dried ramen or noodle cakes (2 cakes) – Note 1 for other options
- 30g / 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp (6 cloves) garlic, finely minced (yep, a lot!)
- 2 tsp oyster sauce (sub vegetarian oyster sauce)
- 2 tsp fish sauce (sub soy sauce – Note 2)
- 1 1/2 tsp Maggi seasoning (sub soy sauce – Note 3)
- 1/4 cup noodle cooking water , more if needed (Note 4)
- 1/4 cup (tightly packed) finely grated parmesan (freshly grated, Note 5)
- 1/4 cup green onion , thinly sliced (~1 stem)
- Noodles – Cook the noodles in a large saucepan per packet directions. Scoop out ~1/2 cup cooking water. Strain noodles and set aside.
- Sauce – Melt butter in the same saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring until soft. Add oyster sauce, fish sauce, Maggi seasoning and 1/4 cup cooking water. Stir to combine.
- Toss – Add cooked noodles, parmesan and green onion. Toss until the noodles are all coated, and the sauce is not pooled in the bottom of the saucepan. Add more cooking water 1 tbsp at the time, if needed to loosen the noodles.
- Serve immediately!
- Serving suggestion: fried egg and broccolini cooked with the noodles*, tossed with Asian Sesame Dressing you always have in your fridge. 🙂* Broccolini takes about 3 minutes, so put it into the water before/after/with the noodles depending on the noodle cooking time.
More quick noodle recipes to try!
Buy a big bag of noodle cakes so you can make these with the leftover noodles:
Life of Dozer
I returned yesterday from a long overdue but unfortunately very short trip to Tokyo for family reasons. Dozer was, as always, sent to the golden retriever boarder’s place for his own holiday. She sends me daily updates. Here he is at the beach, looking far too happy despite being separated from me. I’m sure he’s weeping on the inside. 😂