Food

Hong Kong-Style Crispy Noodles

Hong Kong-Style Crispy Noodles

Not that most of us need much of an excuse to eat pan-fried noodles, but lucky for us we have two excellent ones this week…

To begin with, Friday is Lunar New Year, a holiday celebrated by 2 billion people across many countries in Asia, including Vietnam, Tibet, South Korea, Vietnam and China. It’s a sacred 15-day celebration; and in normal, non-pandemic times, the hope is that people who live and work far from their hometowns can return to their families to pay respects and celebrate. Each dish eaten at the New Year’s Eve feast symbolizes wishes for something specific and hopeful — good health, unity, abundance, wealth, prosperity and good fortune. That’s where the noodles come in — they are traditionally on the table to symbolize longevity.

The second fantastic excuse we have is this recipe from Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food, an amazing new cookbook by Hsiao-Ching Chou. It is everything I want in a pan-fried noodle dish: Crispy-chewy, salty-stewy, vegetable-packed, centerpiece-worthy and meatless. The book is filled with plant-based recipes for Chinese dishes that run the gamut from simple, everyday dinners (Fried Brown Rice with Oyster Mushrooms, Egg Crepes, and a Seared Tofu with Baby Bok Choy which is my dinner tonight) to celebratory holiday spreads like the eight-course suggested menu for New Year’s Eve.

Are you celebrating the New Year? What are you making?

Hong Kong-Style Crispy Noodles
Recipe by Hsiao-Ching Chou, from Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food

The recipe note from Hsaio-Ching: “My father loved this dish. The Mandarin name translates roughly to ‘double-sided golden-brown.’ Cooked noodles are then fried in the shape of a cake, which then serves as a canvas for mixed stir-fried vegetables and protein in a gravy-like sauce. The intersection of textures and flavors — crunchy-chewy noodles, crisp-yet-tender vegetables, savory sauce — is a joy to eat.”
Makes 4 servings

For the noodles
6 cups water
8 to 10 ounces fresh Chinese noodles
Vegetable oil, for frying

For the topping
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 stalks green onions, cut into 2-inch segments
1 cup julienned carrots
4 to 6 medium dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 2 to 3 hours, stemmed, and cut into ¼-inch-thick pieces
1 cup roughly chopped gai lan (Chinese broccoli) or other leafy green
8 snow peas, stemmed
1 cup bean sprouts
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon black bean garlic sauce
⅔ cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons water
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
⅛ teaspoon white pepper powder

To make the noodles, bring the water to a boil in a medium pot. Cook the noodles for about 2 minutes. Drain well and set aside. Add about ⅛ inch of vegetable oil to a heavy 8- or 9-inch skillet, such as a cast iron. Heat the oil over medium heat until the surface starts to shimmer. Test the temperature by placing a small strand of noodle in the oil. If it immediately fries, the oil is ready. Place half of the noodles in the pan, making sure to arrange the noodles in a disc. Fry on each side for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden-to-dark brown but not burnt. Repeat with the remaining noodles. Place on a serving plate and set aside while you make the vegetables.

To make the topping, preheat a wok over high heat until wisps of smoke rise from the surface. Add the vegetable oil and heat until the surface starts to shimmer. Add the onions and stir for 5 seconds. Add the carrots and mushrooms and stir for 10 seconds. Add the gai lan and stir for 30 seconds. Add the snow peas, bean sprouts, soy sauce, black bean garlic sauce, and water. Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch slurry, making sure it gets well mixed with the sauce and vegetables. Finish with sesame oil and white pepper powder. Give it one last stir, then pour it over the noodles. Serve while hot.


Also, an important note from the editors: Recently, as you may have heard, there have been attacks on Asian American elderly people in the Bay Area, including one that resulted in the death of an 84-year-old Thai American man. Here is a great video by civil rights activist Amanda Nguyen, and here is a Washington Post article that explains more. If you’re able, please join us in donating to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. We also will be posting more links later this week. Thank you so much.


P.S. Secret family recipes and a salad that cures homesickness

(Photos by Clare Barboza. Reprinted from Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food with permission of Sasquatch Books.)

  1. Kelly says...

    The violence against Asian Americans—particularly against the most vulnerable in the community (elders and low-income Chinatown residents)—has been shocking and horrific. There hasn’t been enough national coverage. Thank you for using your platform and voice to be an ally.

  2. Sunny says...

    CoJ has always been a place where I can count on a thoughtful take on the latest political happenings. I hope your editorial team might consider using your considerable reach on a post on the latest surge of violence against Asians.

    Thank you for all that you do and please know your articles (and the comments section!) bring a sense of connectedness in these socially distanced/isolated times.

  3. Ali says...

    Thank you for highlighting Asian culture, food, and current issues! This is important representation on such a well-regarded blog. I hope to continue seeing posts that highlight BIPOCs and also hearing from more diverse voices. Keep up this essential work!

  4. Jill says...

    Yum, this looks great!

  5. Clau says...

    I have Hsiao-Ching Chou first book, Chinese Soul Food, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s amazing!! Every recipe I have tried was delicious and so well explained, I have made dumplings from scratch with great success following her instructions.
    It is a real gem!

  6. bb says...

    I legit don’t understand the criticism here. is it because of the harm done to an Asian writer who could have been hired to profile the dish, or is there a more generalized harm being perpetrated against the Asian population? I am guessing the author of the cookbook wants people of all cultures to buy the book and cook the food – but would she object to that same population blogging about her food? in any case the book and recipe look delish.

  7. Meg says...

    Yum! Korean food is one that whole family likes.

    Please consider put up own photos of dish as well. The pros are pretty but ones from your kitchen inspiring.

  8. PV says...

    As an Indian American, I feel like this was an appropriate way to share a different culture’s cuisine, as credit was given to the author. I worry that if we make the barriers greater to sharing different cultures that we end up with more whitewashing.

  9. e says...

    This sounds delicious! Thank you for the introduction to the book Jenny, I’m definitely grabbing this ASAP! I appreciate that you post recipes I might not otherwise come across. Thank you for your contributions to Cup of Jo, they bring many of us joy and inspire us to try new things.

  10. Kathleen says...

    I appreciate Ann’s thoughtful observation and Jo’s supportive response. Since I am a BIG fan of Jenny’s and look forward to her posts, I also want to make sure we continue to support her amazing content.

    For future posts about Asian cuisine, may I suggest Sohui Kim, the owner of both the Good Fork and Insa in Brooklyn. I took an online cooking class that Sohui taught via Dynamite Kitchen. I later took one of her cookbooks out of the library and learned the beauty of cooking each vegetable separately when making her Japchae recipe. The result speaks for itself.

  11. Pamela says...

    2 thumbs up for highlighting Lunar NY and the growing anti-Asian violence as well as providing a link to donate. Props, CoJ.

  12. Emma says...

    Thank you for posting about the recent attacks on elderly Asian Americans, especially since there doesn’t seem to much coverage elsewhere. At least here it feels like we are seen and you are not just posturing when talking about inclusion, unlike other sites. Thank you!

  13. K says...

    As an Asian American I personally am not at all offended by this recipe, I feel seen and nostalgic excitement. I love that these noodles remind me of my dad. I also sincerely appreciate the acknowledgement of the recent senseless attacks on innocent elderly Asians.

  14. Jessica says...

    As an Asian living in Hong Kong and dating an Asian-American in the Bay Area, thank you for highlighting and acknowledging the attacks.

    Another commenter already mentioned it already, but the ReplyAll podcast covering the Bon Appétit workplace controversy is definitely worth a listen- https://gimletmedia.com/shows/reply-all/dvhzkdo

  15. EH says...

    Thank you for using your platform to help bring awareness to the racist crimes against Asians, and for posting a way to take action.

  16. liz says...

    I know it’s not the same, because while I am from an ethnic minority (Greek Cypriot, there are very few of us!), I am still white and subject to many more privileges on that basis. That being said, I still found it jarring it read Jenny’s avgolemono (a traditional Greek soup) recipe that took short cuts on a bunch of steps. It is a food that honestly nobody I knew who wasn’t Greek in America knew about until what seems like very recently, and there is no way, as a nonGreek person, she has the experience or associations we have growing up eating it with our families. Which, honestly, is what cooking is really about for a lot of people. It was also incorrectly categorized as vegetarian and left out a lot of important steps that include, very importantly, boiling a chicken. I’m not saying food and recipes shouldn’t be shared or modified, because that too is what cooking is about, but something feels wrong and appropriative when it’s on a blog like this and wasn’t written by someone who actually grew up cooking and eating it. I didn’t bring it up on that post because honest to god there doesn’t seem to be a single thing left from my culture that hasn’t been appropriated, and also we experience more privileges than many other ethnic minorities. But I am mentioning it now because I can’t help to think that if I felt this way about my a recipe from my culture, I imagine the feeling must be significantly more pronounced with other communities who are currently facing serious threats to safety and other racism-related challenges in the US. Maybe it would be a good idea include cooks who grew up eating these dishes for these kinds of posts.

  17. Tammy Chang says...

    I too am a long time reader, and wanted to echo’s Ann’s sentiments. Something bothered me while reading Jenny discuss the dish, and I appreciate this comment that put it into words for me.

    That said, a bit of praise and appreciation for this post – I very much appreciate the shoutout for this holiday and for bringing awareness to discrimination and hate crimes against Asian Americans, which has been occurring across the US to people of all ages.

    And thank you for calling it Lunar New Year (as opposed to Chinese New Year)!

  18. Charlotte says...

    Hsaio-Ching’s cookbook looks fabulous! Those flavors! My mouth is already watering.

    I have been doing a news fast for the last two weeks to try and clear my head but stories of the racist attacks on Asian Americans have still reached me. It’s heartbreaking and monstrous in every possible way. Thank you for giving people a space to learn about, discuss and process all of these difficult things COJ, it means so much to me and I know I’m not alone in feeling that.

  19. Barbara says...

    As an Asian American I’m so used to feeling invisible that I’m surprised (pleasantly so!) to see a post about Lunar New Year. Thank you!

    • Ann says...

      The word, “invisible”, hit home! Merely calling it out makes me feel uncomfortable – how strange, ironic and heartbreaking.
      I recognize the increasing representation in media in the last ten years and perhaps the narrative is (very) slowly starting to change, but nowhere are we close to being truly seen/accepted/understood, as a collective and as individuals.

  20. Wendy says...

    Thank you for posting about the increase in Asian American hate crimes. I am so worried about the health and safety of my family and friends as well as my own.

  21. Alexandra says...

    I so appreciate you acknowledging Lunar New Year and featuring this delicious-sounding recipe on here. Thanks, Cup of Jo!

  22. Shannah says...

    I hadn’t realized that Hsiao-Ching Chou had a book – I’m going to order it right now! I remember when she was the food editor at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ages ago and I was really sad when she left because I always really looked forward her column.

    • I remember her from the very-much-missed Seattle P-I, too! I always enjoyed her columns so much. I was just thinking about her the other day and wondering what she is doing now.

  23. Amy says...

    At this time of the year, many brands and influencers will make Lunar New Year-themed posts without mentioning the attacks against Asian American community. Thank you for *not* doing that.

    We can celebrate food and people while still advocating for better treatment of these communities.

  24. Alyssa says...

    Any tips on where to buy fresh Chinese noodles or favorite brands?

    • Lilly says...

      For brands – Y&Y instant egg noodle or Six Fortune noodles will do and are pretty widely available, or Farkay, but for some reason I never have much luck with Farkay. It’ll depend what’s available at your grocery store, but you’re looking for, generally, egg noodles with a 2-3 minute boiling time on the package. (Not rice noodles, which often live beside them in the supermarket ‘international’ sections and I have grabbed the wrong pack many times before.)

      Honestly any egg or flour Chinese noodles will do, and fresh are nice but can be hard to find. (I’ve used fettucine in a pinch with my grandma’s version of this! They’re decently close for thickness if not texture. Ramen noodles are a much better sub for texture though if you have any instant packs to use up.)

      Here’s a pretty decent primer on the types that may help, and give a bit of extra context to the noodle prep directions. https://www.thespruceeats.com/lo-mein-vs-chow-mein-694238

  25. EV says...

    Reading some of these comments reminds me of this quote: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

    Jenny is a food writer for the blog. Why wouldn’t she write a blog post about this dish? I appreciate her writing and her recommendation of the cookbook.

    And thank you COJ for highlighting what is happening here in the Bay Area.

    • KJ says...

      Agreed 110%

  26. Amy says...

    Yum!!! Asian food is our favorite here! I’ll be trying this!
    It’s so easy to get kids to eat lots of vegetables with this type food too.

    I had not heard about the Bay Area attacks. How awful. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

  27. ingrid says...

    I also loved this growing up but since we were a spectacularly average white family we had it from the box. Personally I find it bizarre that racism is an issue in the US. It was so upsetting to read that SF news. Shocking.

    From the perspective of food, when I think back to growing up in the 70’s, culturally diverse meals were totally mainstream USA, we ate those boxed Chow Mein mixes with the pre-fried noodles as often as we had ‘Mexican’ Old El Paso boxed tacos or enchiladas, lol. And we couldn’t have been the only ones since they were in national chain supermarkets. We also jumped headfirst into Korean as that became available. Soy sauce and rice was a pantry staple.

    As a child I was taught the America was a melting pot of cultures and people and beliefs and I fully believed that. Church groups were often responsible for sponsoring refugee’s from cultures around the world – often Black or Asian. Yet they are also seem to be the ones responsible for the erosion of the understanding of the concept of “melting pot” and the basic foundation for the creation of our country: religious freedom. Super tired of this uprising of backwards ‘culture’.

    I want to see more national campaigns that promote religious freedom and racial equality. Food is a great place to start because nothing brings people together as easily or enjoyably.

    • Sunny says...

      I’m Asian American, and when I was a kid, the mosaic paradigm (vs. melting pot) was what was taught in school because it allowed people from different backgrounds to come together and still preserve their culture and identity.

      The reality is, even if minorities wanted to assimilate, our lived experience is really different. To this day, people compliment me on how well I speak English when I have no discernible accent. That same lack of accent got me an apartment after a phone interview only to have it retracted when I showed up because ‘Chinese people fry too much food’. Note that I’m ethnically Korean and was really into juicing at that point.

      It’s great that you are open to so many new cuisines, and I hope you can see that each new food you bring into your life also has a people and a culture it arose from.

      Also, serious props to the editors for the note about the violence against elderly Asians in SF. It’s been devastating to hear about such senseless, heartbreaking violence, and I felt so seen when you posted the note. Thank you, thank you.

    • Ingrid says...

      ” I hope you can see that each new food you bring into your life also has a people and a culture it arose from.”

      This is what I was trying to convey with my long, haha, comment. Our family did experience different cultures, food was merely the introduction. We each have traveled internationally but as well also had personal friends – in the US – with a variety of cultural backgrounds via organic social interaction. I am so sorry people experience the type of racism you experienced and it still shocks me that it happens in the US. It’s ridiculous.

    • Ali says...

      Agree that food brings people together! Also agree with Sunny – as a 90s kid, in school I was taught the old “melting pot” analogy (that describes everyone assimilating into one shared identity) has morphed and we now prefer the analogy of America as a “salad bowl” – each ingredient shines on its own still and retains the basic parts of its identity, but they come together harmoniously.

  28. Joann says...

    As an Asian Canadian, I am so relieved to see the editor’s note at the bottom. When I first started reading, my heart felt heavy because I have been processing the anti-asian attacks during the week leading up to celebrating Lunar New Year — and the grief is so complicated. Seeing a recipe without acknowledgement right now, without the context of what is happening to Asian Americans would have felt super out of touch.

    Thank you for adding that in.

  29. Jane says...

    “Chu is my married name and as an athiest Jew, being Chuish is my very favorite thing.”

    Thanks for this bit of levity, Beth. Brought a big smile to my face =).

  30. Laura S says...

    I am asian and am in no way, shape or form offended by anything in this post. Thank you for alerting all of us to these crimes. Horrible. And thanks for the recipes!

  31. Bernadette says...

    As an Asian-American, really glad to read about Lunar New Year and the Asian-American attacks. Thank you for doing this post.

  32. celeste says...

    I had not heard that, and I am appalled and donated. Thanks for tying the holiday, this recipe, a cookbook, and current events all into one, well done, Jenny.

  33. Ann says...

    As a long time COJ reader, I hate to bring this up but I question why a guest Asian writer couldn’t have written this instead, considering it’s lunar New Year and that it’s a HK dish?

    I’m sure COJ didn’t mean to offend but there are a ton of Asian writers in north america (and around the world) who love this dish and who would have been honoured to showcase what lunar new year really means to them. The celebrations are slightly different in many Asian countries. Thought this was a missed opportunity 🤷

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I hear you. Thank you for the feedback, Ann. Jenny’s weekly column features recipes from different cookbook authors so here she featured one from Hsiao-Ching Chou’s new cookbook Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food, along with a quote from the author. We wanted to showcase her book and recipe. But! I hear you that we could have used this opportunity to hire an Asian writer to write the whole post. I’m going to think about this with Jenny and really appreciate the thoughtful feedback, as always.

    • N says...

      I agree with Ann. I think that it may have been a little better for Jenny to introduce Hsiao-Ching Chou and then she could have taken it from there describing her own traditions and the importance of Lunar New Year and the food. This could be a feature Jenny does with other food writers in the future. I do still greatly appreciate this post and bringing the violence against Asian Americans to your readers.

    • Rachel says...

      This was my initial thought as well, Ann!
      The folks from Woks of Life, or really anyone.

    • N says...

      I wanted to clarify, bringing awareness of the Asian American violence to the attention of your readers. Also thank you for the donation link. I always appreciate this blogs willingness to improve and take readers suggestions. It’s why I have kept reading over the years.

    • Christina R. says...

      Wholeheartedly agree! Especially with the idea for Jenny to introduce or have an interview with Hsaio-Ching Chou. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened here, but it’s a tough week for it to happen. I also think it would be impactful to share with readers how a cookbook author is compensated for their feature. Is it website traffic that drives up their cookbook sales? Is there a direct payment from Cup of Jo?

      Last thing – a plug for the recent podcast series ReplyAll is doing on Bon Appetit, if you haven’t heard it already.

    • S says...

      I don’t disagree with this point, but I also think it’s important to hear non-Asians act as allies to the Asian community by raising awareness of recent events. As an Asian-american I appreciated this post . Thank you

    • em says...

      I had similar feelings with this post. I wasn’t offended, and I appreciate that LNY – which is a biiiiiig deal for some of us/our families in the way end of the year holidays are in the US – was mentioned. I also appreciate acknowledgment of the anti-asian racism that is happening. I don’t mean disrespect to jenny & the column she has here, but I agree that it was a missed opportunity to highlight not just a recipe but also the perspective of someone who celebrates this holiday. there are also SO many food blogs & cookbook writers that come to mind- just one cookbook, maangchi, the woks of life, tiny urban kitchen, hetty mckinnon (I met her at a fundraiser and she is just so warm and lovely), amy & jacky/pressurecookrecipes are just a few. overall I appreciated the post, and thanks for continuing a conversation.

    • I had the same feelings when reading this post. Thank you for your thoughtful response, Jo, and especially for the editor’s note about the increase in attacks against the Asian community. Hope to see more food posts from writers that represent the cultures being highlighted in future!

  34. Beth Chu says...

    I love this lunar new years post PLUS bringing more attention to all of the recent anti-asian racism. Chu is my married name and as an athiest Jew, being Chuish is my very favorite thing. My husband and many of my friends have been frightened and angered by the hateful and violent acts. Those of us with white privilege can, should, and will speak out more against hate in all it’s forms!

  35. Alexis says...

    This was my absolute favorite dish growing up. It still is! Thanks for posting it. One of my goals this year is to get my family to eat more veggies – I can’t wait to get this book!

    Thank you also for acknowledging the attacks on the Asian communities. It’s been a weird time to be Asian as we try to align as allies while also experiencing these increases in hostility in such a targeted, disinformed way.

  36. Tiffany says...

    You should have made a separate article about the Asian American attacks to promote awareness and not as an afterthought..

    • S says...

      The post indicates that they will be.
      ‘We also will be posting more links later this week. Thank you so much.”

      If COJ had said nothing, people would be mad they didn’t acknowledge it. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.