This spicy garlic noodles recipe combines epic flavors into one delicious, savory, addictive dish. I made it so that it’s easily adaptable to your taste. But either way, spicy garlic noodles is a dish you didn’t know you wanted so badly.
It’s a funny thing how food cravings often involve savory foods - at least for me. If I don’t have the stuff to make myself a fix of spicy garlic noodles, I’ll make one of my fakeout recipes such as Salt and Pepper Chicken, Ground Pork Ramen or Thai Street Food.
The spicy, chili garlic sauce for this creation is made with a combination of savory ingredients that might sound a little bit exotic at first, but once you have them added to your pantry, you’ll use them a lot. They also all have a very long shelf life, so you don’t have to worry about wasting any products.
The garlicky, bright part of this dish is made by using the allium family of vegetables, which includes shallots and scallions. Ginger will add an additional layer of slightly pungent aroma.
Combined and tossed over some regular pasta or rice noodles and you’ll have a lunch or dinner ready in 20 minutes that’ll make your taste buds yodel.
Would you like to add some protein? Add some cooked shrimp, a few strips of chicken breast, or a couple of fried eggs. Anything goes.
Staying vegetarian? Any sautéed vegetables or fried tofu will complement this dish perfectly.
Don’t be turned off if you don’t have all the ingredients listed below. I think it’s worth buying them for your pantry, but I’ll also talk about some easy substitutions further down in this article.
- Vegetable oil
- Sesame oil
- Soy sauce
- Fish sauce
- Oyster sauce
- Brown sugar
- Sambal Oelek
- Sesame seeds
- Rice noodles
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and their measurements.
How do I make spicy chili garlic noodles?
Short version: Cook noodles according to package instructions. Sauté shallots, garlic, scallions, and ginger. Whisk in all other ingredients (except sesame seeds and the green part of the scallions), mix well with the cooked pasta, and top off with sesame seeds and the green part of the scallions. Drop mic.
If you’re an experienced cook, that’s probably all you need to know. But there are a couple of subtleties that should be followed when cooking this dish, to achieve the result you’re looking for.
First: When cooking the pasta, please use a generous amount of salt in the water. It’s not that the pasta will absorb most of it but it’s essential to bring out the flavor. Before draining the cooked pasta, scoop out half a cup or so of this starchy water, as we’ll add a little to the sauce at the end. This stuff is liquid gold.
Next: In a saucepan, over medium heat, heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the chopped shallots and stir. The shallots should “hiss” a little when they touch the oil, which means the oil temperature is perfect to sauté the shallots, getting them translucent and bringing out the sweetness. The sautéing will take about two or three minutes.
Add the minced garlic, grated ginger, and chopped white parts of the scallions for another minute, stirring everything well.
Tip: Never (okay, there are one or two exceptions) add shallots and garlic to the pan at the same time. By the time the shallots have softened, the garlic will be burnt and you can start all over again.
Add the rest of the ingredients - except the dark green parts of the scallions and the sesame seeds - and reduce heat to a simmer. Mix very well and taste. Yes, it’s in your face. It’s strong, bitey, and hot. Add some of the saved pasta water to reach the desired consistency for the sauce. I don’t like it too runny because it won’t stick to the pasta that well.
Now it’s time for you to make it your own. Add some chili flakes maybe? Squeeze in some fresh lime juice?
Before serving, toss the pasta with the sauce and mix. Top off with sesame seeds and the chopped green scallions.
What are my options for substitutions?
- Vegetable Oil - Any neutral oil with a reasonably high smoking point will do. It’s a waste to use a good extra virgin olive oil when cooking anything higher than medium-low heat.
- Shallots - If you can’t find shallots, a red onion will be perfectly well suited.
- Garlic - Nope, there is no substitution for garlic. 😊
- Scallions - Scallions add freshness and a green color that’s just lovely in Asian-inspired dishes. But if you can’t find scallions (aka spring onions), you could use some chives and/or cilantro to add some green.
- Sesame Oil - Optional. I like the added “Asian” touch it gives to the dish.
- Soy, Fish, Oyster Sauce - This combo creates that wonderful savory flavor dubbed umami. If you don’t have fish sauce or oyster sauce (then you should buy some), just add more soy sauce. It’s still very tasty but loses a little depth of flavor.
- Sambal Oelek - It’s my go-to spicy chili sauce. Sriracha works fine as well.
- Sesame Seeds - Optional. Same idea as with the sesame oil.
- Rice Noodles - I used rice noodles to keep it more Asian. Any long and flat (e.g. tagliatelle, fettucini) pasta will do.
Any ideas on variations?
Besides the substitutions as mentioned above, this spicy garlic noodle dish can be used as the base for any added protein. One of my favorite additions is to cook up a couple of large shrimp in the shell or add some sautéed chicken.
For the ultimate morning pick-me-up, add a couple of fried eggs.
What’s the difference between shallots, garlic, and scallions?
Shallots, garlic, and scallions all belong to the plant genus allium. There are hundreds of (edible and non-edible) species worldwide belonging to that genus. It includes better-known ones such as onions, leeks, ramps, and spring onions.
I use shallots and garlic as the base for many of my dishes. Once you learn how to clean, cut, and cook with them, you’re already ahead of the game.
Shallots are a little milder than onions and therefore are easier to use raw. When cooked, they deliver a delicate, sweet flavor with just a hint of garlic. When using shallots and garlic, always start cooking the shallots first. Only add the garlic at the end for a minute or so.
Garlic is the pungent one you either love or hate. It can be a little finicky to chop, but garlic needs your total attention when it’s added to the oil. It’s very unforgiving. Once garlic gets too hot, it’ll burn quickly and render your dish inedible.
Scallions are similar to spring onions and can be used interchangeably. I like to sauté the white part for a short time (normally together with the garlic) and sprinkle the chopped dark green parts on the dish at the end as a garnish.
Looking for more delicious meals? Check out a few more of our recipes now:
- Salt and Pepper Chicken
- Ground Pork Ramen
- Thai Street Food in 30 minutes
- Panera Spicy Thai Salad
- Naan Bread with Garlic Butter
- Shrimp Scampi with Garlic and Lemon
- Spanish Sardines Pasta
- Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo
- One-Pot Sausage Meatballs with Pasta
- Crispy Ravioli Formaggi
Did you make my Spicy Garlic Noodles? Let us know in the comments below!
Spicy Garlic Noodles
- 8 ounces long, flat pasta of your choice
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large shallot, diced (½ cup)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 bunch of scallion, chopped (3 tablespoon whites/light green & 3 tablespoon dark greens)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Sambal Oelek
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Cook pasta in salted water, according to package instructions.
- In a saucepan, over medium heat, heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil.
- Add the chopped shallots and stir. The shallots should “hiss” a little when they touch the oil, which means the oil temperature is perfect to sauté the shallots, getting them translucent and bringing out the sweetness. The sautéing will take about two or three minutes.
- Add the minced garlic, grated ginger, and chopped white parts of the scallions for another minute, stirring everything well.
- Add the rest of the ingredients - except the dark green parts of the scallions and the sesame seeds - and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Mix very well and taste. Yes, it’s in your face. It’s strong, bitey, and hot.
- Add some of the saved pasta water to reach the desired consistency for the sauce.
- Now it’s time for you to make it your own. Add some chili flakes maybe? Squeeze in some fresh lime juice?
- Before serving, toss the pasta with the sauce and mix.
- Top off with sesame seeds and the chopped green scallions.