Today, we’re going to share a dish we’ve been making for as long as we can remember: spicy pan-fried noodles. It’s just about as simple as it gets. There’s a small handful of ingredients involved and no special skills required beyond boiling a pot of water and heating up a pan.
Growing up, my mom would prepare this quick and easy dish for my sister and me, and it never failed to satisfy. She would blanch and fry the noodles, and then toss them with soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili oil (plus a little white pepper sometimes, if we were getting fancy).
This flavor combination can make anything taste good, which is why you might recognize it from our “After School Special” Noodles recipe.
Even today, I make this regularly, for a quick lunch, dinner, or snack. Perhaps with some stir-fried leafy greens to round it out!
Note: This was the FIRST EVER RECIPE posted on The Woks of Life, back on June 8, 2013. Now, almost 7 years later to the day, we’re reviving it with new photos, clearer instructions, and nutrition info. We’re also bubbling it up because it’s one of our family’s all-time favorite things to eat!
Hong Kong Style Pan-fried Noodles
You can find the noodles and the chili sauce (to be discussed in a moment) for this recipe at any Chinese grocery store.
You’ll need a particular kind of noodle for this dish. The “Hong Kong Style Pan-fried Noodle,” to be exact. Not to be confused with “wonton noodles,” which can look a little similar.
You may not find the exact brand pictured below, but be sure the package has the words “fried noodle” on it. The noodles are yellow in color, thin, and usually found in the fresh or frozen noodle sections of the store.
The Seasoning Ingredients
And here are the ingredients that will make the sauce: A trifecta of chili sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil.
We used to make this spicy pan-fried noodles dish with a simple chili garlic sauce (like a sambal). But then…we found THIS:
It’s probably the best sauce ever conceived by man. Uh…woman. Uh……….man?
It’s called “Lao Gan Ma,” which means “Godmother.” We didn’t realize that at first, so we always just called it “the sauce with the lady on it,” which then got shortened to, “Lady Sauce.” You can see her in the picture…gazing sternly from the label.
One day, however, we had friends over for a dinner party, and someone mentioned, “Hey, I found this great sauce over at the Chinese supermarket. But I have no idea what it’s called.”
“Did it have a picture of a lady on it?” we asked.
“No, no. It’s a picture of a man.”
Cue…like, 10 minutes of speculation in which we go over every possible hot sauce brand and ingredient we can think of until one of us has the sense to pull out a bottle of Lady Sauce and brandish it in our guest’s face.
“Is this it?!”
“YES! That’s the MAN!”
“That’s a WOMAN.”
Well hey, what she doesn’t know about face-framing haircut options, she makes up for in her knowledge of sauce making. In all seriousness, though, that lady has created a line of sauces that’s not only incredibly popular in China, but also abroad.
She’s a real person—who never finished school and was nevertheless able to build a global brand! Read more about her in our recipe for Lao Gan Ma Noodles (they didn’t pay us to say any of this by the way––we just really love the sauce).
There are several varieties, but our favorite one is the Chili Oil with Black Bean. It’s a spicy mix of dry roasted chili peppers and fermented black soybeans that is just…uncommonly good.
We put it on everything from noodles to dumplings, but we use it most often for this dish. You can find it online at places like Amazon, but it’s a lot cheaper at your local Chinese grocery, if you have one in your area.
Simple Spicy Pan-Fried Noodless: Recipe Instructions
So you’ll want to put a pot of water on to boil. We’re using our handy wok burner and wok, cause it boils in under five minutes flat. Which is cause for celebration when you can’t wait to stuff your face with these noodles.
When it’s boiling, drop in the noodles and boil them for just 1 minute. No longer! Or you won’t get the crispy texture you’re looking for in the next step.
After your minute has elapsed, go ahead and drain them in a colander.
Heat up a non-stick pan (we use a cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat. Drop in a handful of your noodles and spread them out in an even layer. Then just let ‘em do their thing.
Take a peek every so often to see if they’ve turned golden.
When they’re crispy and golden, flip them over all at once with one of them fancy restaurant-chef flipping motions. Or, if you have coordination issues/aren’t yet confident with your flipping skills, a spatula or a pair of chopsticks should do the job nicely.
You can use your chopsticks to break up the noodles and get more of the noodles crispy.
Once they’re golden on both sides, slide them onto a plate. Drizzle with about 2 teaspoons of soy, a teaspoon of sesame oil, and some of that Lady Sauce. Stir it all up and dig in!
Repeat with remaining batches, or refrigerate the boiled noodles, covered, for up to 2 days and make more pan-fried noodles whenever you like!
It’s super easy to make, and if you don’t find yourself in proximity of a Chinese grocery too often, stock up on the noodles! You can throw them in the freezer for later.
(There’s no need to thaw the noodles before blanching them, so you don’t even have to take them out ahead of time!)
Simple, Spicy Pan-fried Noodles
- 1 pound fresh Hong Kong Style Pan-Fried Noodles (450g)
- Vegetable oil (for cooking)
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
- Lao Gan Ma spicy black bean sauce (or other chili oil/chili sauce of your choice)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the noodles and boil for 1 minute. Drain thoroughly.
- Heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Take about a quarter of the noodles and spread them evenly in the pan.
- Let them cook until golden brown on both sides. Slide onto a serving plate and toss with about two teaspoons of soy sauce, a teaspoon of sesame oil, and some chili sauce.
- Repeat with remaining batches, or refrigerate the blanched noodles (covered) for up to 2 days and pan-fry noodles as needed!