13.071 Garlic Noodles

Cycle 13 – Item 71

17 (Thu) March 2022

Garlic Noodles

3.0

by me

at home

-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-

with the Family

Chef J Kenji López-Alt’s article on this dish was recently featured in The New York Times (see “These Garlic Noodles Cross Cultures, but Are Deeply San Franciscan“)The piece includes the recipe, as well as cooking tips and background on the dish’s Vietnamese-American origins.

On YouTube, the chef can be seen making the dish on an episode of Kenji’s Cooking Show (see Garlic Noodles).

Initially forgetting about the skillet tip, I had already started the water in a large pot; prior to adding the pasta, I kept the pot but dumped out most of the water.

A very helpful tip that I learned from the article is to cook the pasta in a skillet, just enough water to cover the noodles.  First, the water comes to the boil more quickly, within a minute.  Second, especially important for dishes involving pan sauces, the residual starch in the water gets more concentrated, facilitating emulsion when added to a sauce being developed in a separate pan.  Finally, when finished, the noodles are more readily transferred from skillet to sauce pan.  Also, a skillet fits more easily into the dishwasher.  According to the article, blind taste tests conducted on pasta experts have shown no difference in results between noodles cooked in the traditional deep water method versus this shallow method.

Anticipating that I will continue to experiment with the dish, I list the ingredients below for my own convenience, with amounts slightly tweaked from Chef Kenji’s original recipe:

INGREDIENTS

    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 20 minced garlic cloves (60 grams)
    • 4 teaspoons oyster sauce
    • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
    • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
    • 400 grams spaghetti
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (or Pecorino Romano)
    • 1 thinly sliced scallion

The dish turned out amazing.  Because of the pasta + butter + cheese, despite the distinctly Asian seasonings, the taste and texture of the dish seemed generally more Italian than Vietnamese.   Overall, the flavor profile was rich and packed with umami, ideal level of saltiness (note: no salt is added to the pasta cooking water).  And yes, the pasta water made for a gorgeously creamy sauce.  This is an instant family favorite.  I look forward to adaptions with additional components (e.g., shrimp).

(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)

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