Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cold Noodles Sze-Chuan Style

Okay folks, you've been asking for it, and here it is!  Cold Sze-Chuan Style Noodles.  It is, and always will be, one of my all time favorite recipes.  Growing up, I often requested my mom to make this.  She learned how to make it from her Chinese cooking teacher Mrs. Ting while living in Okinawa.  My mom took cooking lessons for 3 years from Ti'en Liu (aka Deanna Luke - her Chinese name anglicized), and then for about a year from her younger friend Mrs. Ting.  Both trained under top chefs in Hong Kong.

A couple months ago, it was my turn to host Bunco and I decided I couldn't go wrong with this winner.   Just about everyone wanted the recipe, so by popular demand here it is...

Cold Noodles Sze-Chuan Style
1 cup cooked shredded chicken (cook the chicken in boiling water with 3 slices of fresh ginger and a splash of cooking Sherry to give it some flavor),  I use 2 chicken breasts.

2 cups bean sprouts, blanched
1 large carrot, cut into julienne strips
1 zucchini, cut into julienne strips (or sub. English cucumber)

1 1/4 lb fresh Chinese noodles (such as Nasoya)
2 Tbs vegetable oil (I use 1 T.)
1 Tbs sesame oil

3 Tbs sesame seed paste (mom usually used peanut butter)
6 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs vinegar (rice or white) Mrs. Ting says 2 Tbs
1 T. red hot pepper oil (I substitute 1/4-1/2 t. crushed red pepper, since I don't have this on hand)
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbs scallions, chopped (or green onions)
1/2 Tbs ginger, minced
1/2 Tbs garlic, minced
1/2 tsp brown peppercorn (Szechuan) powder (DO NOT sub other peppers, this one is unique!)**
1 Tbs sesame oil

1 Tbs roasted peanuts, chopped

**I have a big container of brown peppercorns, so if you live near me I would be glad to provide you with this critical ingredient. I was only able to find it online.

Mom never cut any corners with this recipe and made the noodles from scratch.  I don't see how she had the time!  I sure don't so cheat and buy them at the grocery store.  My local grocery store Bel Air/Raley's has fresh Nasoya Chinese noodles in the produce section. 

Noodles: 2 cups flour, 2 eggs, +/- 2 Tbs water. Knead, adding more water necessary to make a stiff dough (particles should just barely cling together). Roll out into a thin sheet. Roll up and cut into noodles. Or just buy noodles.

1. Put the noodles into boiling water and cook until the water boils again.  Then add 1/2 cup of cold water and boil again until the noodles are tender.  Take the noodles out immediately. Put on a platter that has 2 Tbs of vegetable oil on it. Add another 1 Tbs of sesame seed oil to the noodles.  Then use chopsticks (if your up for the challenge!) or tongs to stir the noodles and at the same time use a fan to cool the noodles.   I know this sounds tricky, but the easiest way I found was to put an electric fan on the counter while you lift the noodles with tongs until they are cooled.  This process is to prevent the noodles from sticking together. (the fanning makes them shiny too!)
2. Boil the bean sprouts in boiling water for about 10 seconds. I use the hot water I just used for cooking the noodles.  Remove the sprouts and plunge into cold water. When they are cool, squeeze dry. Put on a serving platter and place the cold noodles over them. Then put the shredded chicken on the noodles.

3. Mix the sesame seed paste (peanut butter) with 1 Tbs of soy sauce in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly.  Then add another tablespoon of soy sauce. Mix well.  Repeat this procedure until all the soy sauce has been used up.   Then add the vinegar, red hot pepper oil, scallion, ginger, garlic, brown peppercorn powder, and sesame oil to prepare the seasoning sauce and pour over the top of the prepared noodles.  Top with carrots and zucchini.   Sprinkle peanuts over.   Mix well just before serving.
3. Put the sesame seed paste (peanut butter), soy sauce, vinegar, red hot pepper oil, ginger, garlic, brown peppercorn powder, and sesame oil in a blender.  When smooth, stir in scallions ans proceed as above.

I know the recipe seems complicated, but after you've made it once you'll find ways to get everything organized so it will be easier the second time around.  I would just say give yourself plenty of time to make it.  Since it is served chilled it's fine to make it in the morning and serve it for dinner.  If you have any questions, just let me know! I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does. :)

Additional notes, as reminded by my mother....
1) Soy Sauce: "Mrs. Liu and Mrs. Ting were insistant that I use La Choy (or another Chinese soy sauce) rather than Kikkoman or other Japanese soy sauce.   The Chinese soy sauce has less sharp taste and a little more dimension, I think, although they are pretty interchangable." Okay so I used Kikkoman because that's what I had!  I wasn't about to go buy another soy sauce. Sorry mom :(
2) Noodles: "if you can't find the noodles mentioned, fresh linguine from the deli section works fine.  Dried linguine works fine, too, but lengthens the cooking time."
3) Szechwan brown peppercorns are actually the berries of  a certain variety of the prickly mountain ash shrub, and are not from the pepper family at all.
4) Hot Pepper Oil: "In Okinawa, hot pepper oil wasn't available, so Mrs. Liu would simmer a fresh hot pepper or two (like a Thai pepper, for instance)  in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil until the pepper began to darken.  Throw away the pepper and use the oil."


  1. Where is Aaron while you're doing all this? Daisy would go ballistic while I was whipping this up!

    Oh, and this looks DELISH!

  2. Aaron was sleeping :) Otherwise, like you said, it would be impossible!

  3. Hi Meghan, Your MOm sent me your site. She and I have been swapping a little salad and I'm pretty excited about the noodles. Love your site. If your Mom likes my salad, feel free to use the recipe. Keep cooking. Liz