A humble dish from Shanghai, spring onion oil noodles (aka scallion oil noodles) are simple to make but seriously delectable. It can be served as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a side dish for parties.
Originating in Shanghai, scallion oil noodles (aka spring onion oil noodles, 葱油拌面) is a humble dish with great flavour. In appearance, it’s as simple as can be: boiled noodles coated with a thin, brownish sauce and topped with fried spring onion. However, it can effortlessly excite your taste buds, a true example to prove the concept “Less is more”.
Extract the best aroma of spring onion
As its name suggests, spring onion oil is the key ingredient for this Shanghai dish. Fresh spring onion is simmered over low heat in the oil to extract all the aroma.
My mum is not a big fan of any vegetable from the onion family. She doesn’t fancy the strong “onion smell” as it can linger in your mouth for quite a while and makes your breath unpleasant to others (as with garlic). However, she adores spring onion oil noodles! The simmering process “kills” the pungent flavour but keeps (or enhances) the delightful fragrance of spring onion.
Why not make the oil in bulk?
I’ve written a post on how to make spring onion oil in bulk. It’s a very handy condiment to have for those who love spring onion oil noodles. Whenever I’m lazy or in a hurry, this Shanghai dish always comes to the rescue. It takes only a few minutes to complete and it always tastes wonderful. Of course, you can cook a small amount of spring onion oil for immediate use instead.
Don’t skip dark soy sauce
Another star ingredient for spring onion oil noodles is soy sauce (As you may know, Shanghainese love soy sauce in their dishes). It’s worth noting that both light soy sauce and dark soy sauce are called for in the recipe (Read my post “Soy sauce: light or dark” to learn their differences).
Less common than the light version, dark soy sauce provides a sweet taste to the dish. But more importantly, its thicker consistency makes coating the noodles easier and it gives the dish an appetizing brown look. Using dark soy sauce is truly worth the effort in order to get a more authentic result.
Thin, round wheat-flour noodles are traditionally used for this dish. The simple and quick choice would be shop-bought, dried noodles of this kind.
Add them to boiling water. Take out when they’re fully cooked but still have a bouncy texture. Drain and rinse them under running water for a few seconds to remove the surface starch.
Although not “authentic”, other types of noodles would work for this dish too (e.g. rice noodles, soba noodles, and even spaghetti). If you love making noodles from scratch, why not try these recipes:
How to serve
Sometimes I have this dish with a fried egg as a quick breakfast. For lunch or dinner, I like to top it with some fried pork mince and a salad or some blanched vegetable.
I have also cooked it as a side dish for multi-course dinner parties (served in a small rice bowl for each diner). It takes very little time to prepare, thus won’t overburden the busy party host.
Other noodle dishes to try
Shanghai spring onion oil noodles (葱油拌面)
- Pour oil in a wok. Add spring onion. Leave to simmer over a medium low heat until it starts to brown. Take the onion out and set aside (see note).
- Add soy sauce and sugar to the oil. Cook until the sauce starts to bubble. Turn off the heat.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook noodles following the instructions on the package. Drain then briefly rinse under running water.
- Place noodles in the wok. Stir well to evenly coat the noodles with the sauce.
- Portion out the noodles into 4 serving bowls. Top with fried spring onion.