If you would have dropped by on Sunday mornings in our house, you would have seen us, happily sitting with stainless steel plates nestled in the lap,with forks in our hands and stuffing little noodle bundles into our faces. If it were the winter season,mom asked us to camp on a cot in the backyard, where first morning sun rays touched t,otherwise,during the summers, we sat on the veranda in front of the kitchen eating noodles that mom would have made early in the morning for breakfast or brunch.There is something really yummy (and flavorful) about cold noodles, I love it, do you? For few hours in the Sunday morning, the house smelled of garlic and eggs, much to the irritation of my grandmother but it was a day reserved for noodles and we would not have it any other way. Except eggs, I never saw her adding other protein to her recipe,(still) boneless meat or poultry is not very popular in our house and I had not even heard of seafood being added to noodles or pasta till a few years back.
She would start out by flavoring the oil with desi lahsun (really sharp garlic which sometimes came from the house vegetable patch), fresh ground red chili paste and then would add a lot, and a lot of vegetables. Long string beans thinly cut up to resemble match sticks, thick grated sweet red carrots (which is a winter speciality in Delhi), shredded cabbage and slender,mild tasting spring onions (scallions), always cut at an angle into oval rings. When she made noodles, she added a few indian spices too, something I guess every indian mother does once in a while.In those days(I mean the 80’s) we barely got more than a variety or two of noodles in the market and an evening earlier, she would walk down to a bakery cum confectionary a few miles away from the regular market. She would get eggless ‘Tops’ noodles brand and our favorite jeera biscuits from there.Those noodles were pale yellow hued, thick and doughy, also they needed quite a lot of flavorings to up their plainness, but made each Sunday morning special for us.
Now, that the times have changed and I am spoiled for choice, I go to my grocery store and spend time reading labels, comparing price and then picking my deal. I find asian stores the best for picking up noodles because I find the product quite authentic. The other day I picked up these ‘Hong Kong Egg Noodles’, a thinner variety of noodles along with dried sichuan peppers and played around with my mom’s noodles recipe which warmed our stomaches growing up,a recipe inspired by schezwan style of noodles which is extremely popular in India.
Schezwan noodles is another favorite indo chinese food. The noodles mostly get their flavor from red chili and garlic paste as compared to soy sauce doused hakka noodles.The resultant noodles are way spicy and flavorful. The heat and color of the paste (and so the noodles) depends on the variety of dry chillies (kashmiri chili is the best) and once you make that sauce, it can be used in a lot of ways.
The kitchen smelled like mom’s that morning, of aroma when that fiery paste laden with red chilies, garlic and sichuan peppers hit the oil. Consider it something which swells your senses, choking them with its heat and piquancy. These noodles taste good warm and cold. The husband LOVES them for lunch and so do I. I use dry red chilies (seeds & veins everything) and they lend the heat which is perfect for our palates, but you can cut them down or use hotter chillies variety if you want. Your call. This schezwan sauce is an extremely flavorful condiment for your kitchen,once made, you can refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks and then use for making fried rice, dips or stir fries.
For the Schezwan Sauce (Makes about 1/3 cup)
- 15-18 dry red chillies
- 3 tbsp pure sesame oil, divided
- 1 small whole serrano chilli, finely chopped (optional)
- 8 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2″ fresh ginger piece, finely chopped
- 1.5 tsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp sichuan peppers,crushed
- 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
- 1.5 tsp sugar (or to taste)
Note – The color and heat of the schezwan paste (and the noodles) depends on the variety of dried chilies. If you use kashmiri chillies, the color would be perfect deep red.
For the noodles (Serves 2-3)
- 6 oz noodles
- 1 tbsp oil, divided (to be added while boiling the noodles as well as after straining)
- 2 tbsp canola oil +1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 5-6 scallions, green & white parts chopped separately
- 1.5 – 2 cup chopped/shredded vegetables (I used cabbage, bell peppers & beans)
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 2-4 tbsp schezwan sauce (or to taste, recipe above)
- 10-12 medium shrimp, precooked
- 1 tsp white vinegar or fresh lime juice (to taste)
- Chopped Cilantro, Scallions, chillies, sesame seeds to garnish (optional)
For the Schezwan Sauce
Soak the red chillies in 1/3 cup warm water for 20-25 minutes. Transfer the soaked chillies to a blender (reserving the water) along with 1 tbsp sesame oil, garlic, ginger, serrano(if using), tomato paste, sichuan peppers, vinegar,soy sauce, salt and black pepper. Blend to a smooth paste. You could use the reserved water from soaking the chillies if needed but do not use too much.
Warm up the remaining 2 tbsp sesame oil in a small sauce pan.Add the onions to it, sauté till they soften. Add the blended chilli paste and cook for 8-10 minutes on medium low heat till you see that the paste changes color to deep red, glistens and oil separating on the sides of the pan. Add the sugar, mix and cook for another minute or so. Put off the heat. Let cool down, transfer to small jar and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
For the Schezwan Noodles
Cook noodles as per package instructions. Add 2 tsp of oil and salt to the water when you are boiling the noodles. After you have drained the noodles, rub them with remaining oil and let sit. This is so that the noodles do not stick while you make the sauce.
In a wok, heat up the 3 tbsp oil. Add the garlic and let cook till you smell a nice aroma (take care that it does not burn). Add the white scallion parts next and sauté for 1-2 minutes till they soften.Next add the vegetables along with a pinch of salt. On medium heat cook till the vegetables soften a bit but are still crunchy.
Next, add the dark soy sauce along with schezwan sauce (it is hot so add the quantity depending on your taste). Saute for a minute or so. Add the noodles and salt next and toss everything together.
Add the cooked shrimp, scallion green parts and vinegar (or lime juice) next.Combine everything and let cook for a couple of minutes more.
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!