“You haven’t experienced Shanghai until you’ve had a bowl of scallion [spring onion] oil noodles. It’s a quintessential, old Shanghai dish – a humble, yet extremely satisfying, bowl of noodles,” explains Betty Liu, photographer and food writer.
“This dish reveals the secret of that complex umami flavour used in many of Shanghai’s signature dishes: scallion oil. Scallions (spring onions) are slowly fried in oil so that their flavour infuses it. This flavoured oil serves as the base of the dish. By itself, the soy sauce–rock sugar mix makes a lovely, deep, sweet yet savoury sauce, but it often needs something else – pork, chicken, eggplant, or loads of scallions – for additional flavour. Dried shrimp is an excellent addition that supplies an extra bit of umami. If you’re craving something with more protein, fry some ground pork in your scallion oil until browned and crisp, then turn off the heat and proceed with the recipe.
“You can also make scallion oil ahead of time. Quadruple the recipe below and follow the steps. Let it cool and pour it into a sterile jar; it will keep in the fridge for up to a month. Use it any time, to elevate any dish you’re making,” says Liu.
Scallion oil noodles
- Wok or frying pan
- 1.5 tsp dried shrimp
- 8 scallions (spring onions) cut into 1-inch (2.5cm) segments
- 3 tbsp neutral cooking oil, such as canola or grapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp black vinegar
- 1 tbsp crushed rock sugar or granulated sugar
- Pinch of ground white pepper
- 225 g fresh Shanghai-style thin noodles, cooked to al dente (or 2 servings of any dried noodles. I’ve used soba and ramen noodles with great effect.)
- Place the dried shrimp in a small bowl with hot water to cover and soak for 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Smash the scallions with the side of a meat cleaver. Pat dry with a paper towel to avoid any water droplets from causing the oil to splatter during stir-frying.
- Heat the oil in a well-seasoned wok over medium-low. Add the scallion segments and let them fry slowly, so they turn yellow without burning. Stir occasionally so the segments brown evenly. This slowly rendered-out flavour is essential to this recipe – be patient and let the toasty flavour infuse the oil. I usually let the scallions cook for 20 to 30 minutes, but for a deeper flavour, cook them at a lower heat for longer, even up to one hour. I’ll often make big batches of this oil that I store in the refrigerator; for this recipe I use three tablespoons. Reduce the heat to low, add the shrimp, and cook for another five minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix together the dark and light soy sauces, vinegar, and sugar.
- Increase the heat to medium and immediately pour the soy sauce mixture into the wok. The sauce will bubble finely and foam (if it bubbles too much, your heat is too high) and begin to caramelise. Stir to dissolve the sugar and let simmer for two to three minutes to thicken. Turn off the heat. Add a pinch of white pepper. Add the cooked noodles to the wok and toss to combine. Divide the noodles between two bowls, making sure to scoop up the scallion segments.
My Shanghai by Betty Liu. Copyright © 2021 by Betty Liu. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
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- Liu, Betty (Author)
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Last update on 2021-05-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API