Chili Garlic Chicken Noodles (Sichuan Yu Xiang Style)
Tender chicken strips, chewy and slippery noodles, cloud ear mushrooms, bok choy, and plenty of garlic and chilies get tossed in a mouthwatering sauce in this Sichuan “yu xiang” style Chili Garlic Chicken Noodles!
Prepare the dried mushrooms: Place the dried cloud ear mushrooms in a bowl and fill with water. Soak for 20 minutes until rehydrated and tender. Drain into a strainer and rinse thoroughly. Pat-dry, then slice into thin strips. Make sure to slice off and discard the tough end tip. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the sliced mushrooms. Blanche for 2 minutes, then drain into a strainer and run cold water on top to halt the cooking process. Set aside.
Marinate the chicken: Slice the chicken breast into thin slivers. Add to a bowl, followed by the kosher salt, potato starch, Shao Xing rice wine, low sodium light soy sauce and sesame oil. Mix well to combine and set aside.
Make the sauce: In a small bowl or measuring cup (for easier pouring), mix together the kosher salt, potato starch, white sugar, low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, Chinkiang vinegar, dark soy sauce, pure chili oil (if using), sesame oil and water until thoroughly combined.
Prepare the fresh and dry ingredients: Chop the spring onion, ginger, garlic, fresh red chilies and choy sum as indicated in the ‘ingredients’ section. Snip the dried red chilies into ½-inch pieces. (Tip: Shake out and discard some or all of the seeds from the dried chilies for a milder dish.)
For the Chili Garlic Chicken Noodles:
Prepare the noodles: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the noodle cakes into the pot. Use tongs to grab onto the cake and shake gently until the strands have separated and are tender – about 1 minute. Drain into a colander and run cold water on top to prevent sticking and halt the cooking process.
Cook the chicken: Heat 3 tablespoons of peanut oil in a large wok over high heat. Once hot, add the marinated chicken slivers and immediately spread out the pieces in the wok. Stir-fry for 40 seconds, until 80% cooked. Transfer to a fine mesh strainer held above the wok and allow the excess oil to drip back in. Place the strainer on top of a clean bowl.
Stir-fry the aromatics: Heat the oil in the wok over low heat. Add the pickled chilies and sauté for 20 seconds. Turn the heat back up to medium and add the spring onion white and light green parts, ginger and garlic. Stir-fry for 30 seconds until fragrant.
Stir-fry the chilies: Add the fresh and dried red chilies and stir-fry for 30 seconds to combine.
Add the veggies: Add the sliced mushrooms and bok choy. Stir-fry for 20 seconds or until the leafy parts of the greens are just starting to soften.
Add the noodles, chicken and sauce: Turn the heat back up to high and add the noodles and chicken (and the juices in the bowl). Give the sauce a quick stir with a spoon to loosen up the potato starch that will have settled at the bottom. Pour it over everything and stir-fry continuously for 1 minute, until the sauce thickens and coats everything well.
Toss through spring onion: Toss through most of the spring onion dark green parts (reserve a few pieces for garnish) and switch off the heat.
To Serve: Transfer to a serving plate or divide evenly into bowls. Garnish with the reserved spring onion dark green parts and serve immediately.
Dried Cloud Ear and Wood Ear Mushrooms. These are also known as Chinese black fungus. Wood ear mushrooms are typically used in “yu xiang” dishes. I used dried cloud ear mushrooms here as they’re both similar in texture, appearance, and taste and are easily available where I live. If you’re using dried mushrooms like I have, you’ll need to soak them in a bowl of water to rehydrate before slicing and briefly blanching. For fresh mushrooms, you only need to rinse and slice them before blanching.
Fresh Red Chilies. Adjust the quantity to taste for less or more heat. Omit completely for a milder noodles dish.
Dried Red Chilies. I’ve used Chinese Xiao Mi La dried red chilies here, which are very hot. Feel free to use any medium to hot Chinese or Thai dried red chilies. Note that Thai Bird’s Eye dried red chilies are incredibly hot and hotter than most Chinese dried red chilies. Be sure to use less if using them. Omit the dried chilies completely to make the noodles milder.
Shanghai Noodles. These are thick wheat-based Chinese white noodles. They have a lovely bouncy and chewy texture. You can find fresh Shanghai noodles in the fridge section of Asian and Chinese supermarkets. Alternatively, use the vacuum sealed packs of pre-cooked noodles like I have here. A great substitute would be udon noodles as they have a similar chewy texture. Frozen or vacuum sealed packs are preferred over dry udon noodles as the dry noodles do not have the same bouncy texture.
Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies Sauce. Pickled fresh er jing tiao chilies (pao la jiao – 泡辣椒) are traditionally used in “yu xiang” dishes in the Sichuan region. However, I find Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies sauce is an excellent substitute. It has a similar hot and tangy flavor profile and is super tasty! Try finding a jar at an Asian or Chinese supermarket, or purchase one online. You can substitute with sambal oelek or chopped Mexican or Thai pickled red chilies for a similar flavor.
Leftovers and storing. Store leftovers in a sealed airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway in between, until hot throughout.
See ‘Variations’ section in the post above if you’d like to customize these noodles.