Lao Gan Ma (Spicy Chili Crisp) Noodles

I learned about the Lao Gan Ma spicy chili crisp a couple of years back while food shopping at 99 Ranch, an Asian food grocer. They were doing a food demo on it and they just added this onto cooked vermicelli noodles and some shredded cabbage. The lady doing the demo assured me that I just needed this sauce to flavor it and nothing else. There was a crowd sampling it and later grabbing a bottle. So I picked up a bottle myself to take home.

I initially used this to season my Mapo Tofu and then actually forgot about it. Then my sister casually mentioned to me that is actually very popular among her Chinese friends. She was once served a noodle dish made of just this sauce and some bok choy. From then on I make sure I always have a bottle of this in the fridge since it also nicely season any stir fried dish.

A few months ago my daughter discovered this and asked me to help her make Lao Gan Ma noodles. I did a quick search on the web since I wanted to create a more saucy noodle dish and this is what I came up with. Note: For this recipe I used the Lao Gan Ma Chili Oil with Black Bean since I ran out of the spicy chili crisp.

First cook your noodles according to package directions. I used some dried soba noodles but you can use vermicelli, dried Chinese wheat noodles and I’ve also used angel hair pasta with much success for this recipe.

While noodles are cooking, prepare your sauce. Place 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil in a pan and add 3-4 minced garlic cloves. Cook until fragrant and just turning brown on the edges. Remove from heat and add a mixture of 2 Tablespoon Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp , 1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce, 1 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar, 1 tsp. grated ginger. Stir until combined.

Take your noodles, drain and place in a bowl, then toss in a couple of tablespoons of your sauce until your noodles is evenly coated. You can season it with the sauce to suit your taste. I added spinach in mine but you can top it with some cilantro , green onions or even some steamed baby boy choy.

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Shoyu Butter Pasta with Mushrooms

This recipe is a Japanese style pasta often referred to as Wafu Pasta. The first Wafu Pasta I made had mirin, cooking sake and a bit of soy sauce with Shimeji mushrooms. This differs a bit that it has garlic and butter and soy in it as key ingredients. The Shoyu butter combination on pasta may sound unappealing at first but it does really compliment each other which rounds out the flavor of the dish really well.

To make, cook your spaghetti noodles according to package directions. I used 3/4 of a box of dried pasta.

While your pasta is cooking. Place a pan over medium high heat. To it add 3 tablespoons olive oil and 3-4 finely minced garlic cloves. Cook until fragrant and just starting to brown around the edges. Do not burn or overcook. Then add 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms. I used baby portobello and white mushrooms. You can also use Shimeji, oyster or shiitake. Cook until softened. You may add more olive oil if you feel it’s necessary for this step. Then place 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons soy sauce (preferably Kikkoman brand) and about 1/2 cup pasta water. Cook and stir until the sauce is thickened. Then transfer your cooked pasta straight to the pan with mushrooms. Stir until pasta is coated with the sauce. You may add more pasta water and adjust seasoning according to your liking. I added 1 tablespoon more of butter to give it a glossy finish.

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Spicy Tuna Pasta

This is a favorite pasta recipe that I can easily throw together when I am too lazy and want something fast and easy to prepare. I have several variations of this dish, and one has been featured here already.

The Filipino Century tuna is my favorite brand of canned tuna. My sisters and I have been loyal to this brand since the late 80’s. My favorite is their Spanish style tuna, which unfortunately isn’t available here in my neck of the woods. So I just make do with the hot and spicy flavor which I can get at my local Asian store.

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To make, cook your spaghetti according to package directions. While your pasta is cooking, get a large skillet and add 3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Then add 3-4 minced garlic and let this cook until fragrant and just until it’s starting to brown on the edges. Be careful not to burn it. Then add the entire contents of your canned tuna. Let this simmer for a minute. Then add once can of diced tomatoes and a container of sliced black olives. Stir until everything is well combined. Then add your cooked pasta directly on to the skillet, no need to strain. The added water will help bind the sauce together. Season to taste with kosher salt. Add a handful of chopped parsley, toss and turn off heat. You can also add a drizzling of extra virgin olive oil towards the end of cooking to finish it off.

Serve immediately.

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Spinach Chive Linguine with Chicken Sausage

This is just one one of those meals that I hastily put together for lunch. Sometimes it’s easy to make a dish with a few simple but flavorful ingredients.

I got this Spinach Chive pasta from Trader Joe’s. I liked their lemon pepper pappardelle pasta which I was looking for initially but saw this instead. Since the pasta is already flavored, I thought it doesn’t really need a lot of things added to the sauce to make it taste good.

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Cook the pasta according to package directions. Then set aside. Then get a skillet and saute some bell peppers in 2-3 tbsp olive oil ( I used half a green and half yellow) and a couple of king oyster mushrooms. You may use red or green bell peppers or any other vegetable you may have like zucchini or white mushrooms. Just cook until crisp tender. Remove from pan. Place a couple of chicken sausages (I used spicy Italian but you can use whatever type sausage you want) in the same pan that has been cut up and cook until done and brown on all sides. Put back your vegetables and stir. Then add your pasta, toss to combine. You may add some pasta water and a bit of olive oil to finish off the dish. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I served this with some rustic whole wheat bread.

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Instant Ramen Fried Rice

This is the new food craze that has been sweeping Japan early this year. I honestly didn’t know about it until I read an article on Serious Eats, a food blog I have been following for many years now. It may sound unpalatable when you think about it, but during these times we can’t afford to be picky and may be the survival food we need right now. It’s also a way to dress up your instant cup noodle and maybe even stretch it to serve two people.

You will only need three basic I ingredients: 1 cup noodle, 1 cup cooked rice and an egg.

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To make, pour the contents of your cup noodle in a resealable bag (ziplock bag), and crush the noodles into small pieces. Place it back into the cup and pour just enough hot water to cover the noodles. Set aside.

Heat a skillet and add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Add one beaten egg and cook it scrambled. Then add your rice and continue stirring until heated through. Pour your ramen and mix together until everything is well combined. I just seasone it with some ground black pepper and a touch of low sodium soya sauce for color (which is optional).

To serve, I packed it into a ceramic bowl and inverted it onto a plate. Serve hot. You may want to dress it more by sprinkling some nori strips on top or drizzling ketchup.

The verdict, it’s not as bad as you think it might be, so don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

P.S. the Ramen maker Nissin actually made their very own version where you can read about it here.

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Bucatini Aglio e Olio

I whipped this up when I wanted to have pasta for lunch and didn’t really have a lot of ingredients on hand. This is one of the easiest and simplest pasta dish you can make. You will only need dried pasta, garlic and good quality olive oil.

This recipe is for good for one serving.

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First, cook your pasta according to package directions. I used this guide to measure the portion of a single serve pasta. Don’t forget to salt your water and set aside 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water.

Thinly slice 2 cloves of garlic. Take a skillet and place 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and cook your garlic over low heat. It should just gently sizzle while cooking. Then add a pinch of red pepper flakes and a pinch of kosher salt. It is done when the outside edges of the garlic is starting to brown. Add 2 tablespoon of pasta water so that the garlic would stop cooking and prevent it from burning. Let it cook for a bit then add your cooked pasta and the rest of the reserved water. Stir and shake the pan until the sauce thickens creating an emulsion. Add a handful of chopped parsley (optional), toss and stir and serve immediately.

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Chapaguri (Jjapaguri)

Have you ever find yourself feeling hungry after watching a movie or TV show. Being a foodie this almost always happen to me. I have recreated dishes featured from shows I have watched and even blogged about it. One of this is the Netflix series Midnight Diner where I made Tuna Mayo Don and Octopus Sausages.

This noodle dish “Chapaguri” is inspired from the Academy award winning film “Parasite”. It’s been blowing up the internet and other social media platforms with pictures and recipes of it. It’s made from instant noodles topped with steak cubes. It combines two different types of noodles: Chapagetti black bean noodles and Neoguri spicy noodles.

You only need three ingredients to make it: a piece of steak, one packet chapaghetti and one neoguri.

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To make, cut your steak into cubes and season with salt and pepper. Using a thick bottomed skillet or cast iron pan, cook your steak into your desired doneness.

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While your steak is cooking, boil 5-6 cups water in a small pot. Then add the noodles and vegetable packet. Cook for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Drain the noodles but reserve 2/3 cup of cooking water. Add the entire seasoning packet of Chapagehetti and 1/2 of the seasoning packet or Neoguri and reserved water. Cook and stir for about a minute. Add the steak cubes and the oil packet from Chapaghetti and mix until combined.

Transfer to a bowl and serve hot.

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For those who don’t want to be bothered making it themselves, Nongshim has created an instant ramen version of chapaguri.

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Photo via nongshimusa.com

Fetuccine with Salmon Flakes, Avocado and Arugula

I was set on making pasta with smoked salmon for lunch. I have all the ingredients I needed but had to make a last minute change when I realized that my smoked salmon has gone bad already. After a hurried inventory of my pantry, I spied an unopened bottle of salmon flakes. These are the ones I use for making onigiri. For these recipe you will need the following: fettuccine, olive oil, garlic clove, salmon, avocado, arugula, lemon and salt and pepper.

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Cook your pasta according to package directions (I used just enough for two servings). Don’t forget to salt your pasta water.

Get a sauté pan and heat about 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. Then add 1-2 cloves minced garlic. Cook until fragrant but don’t let it brown. Add 2 tablespoon of your flaked salmon (You can use leftover baked salmon fillets about 1/4 cup) and the zest of one lemon. Continue cooking until warmed through. Add your cooked pasta and half of an avocado that has been diced. Stir until everything is well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add a handful of arugula and remove pan from heat. Carefully mix in your greens. Plate and serve with a slice of crusty bread. I squeezed a slice of lemon on my bowl for an added brightness to the dish.

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Spicy Tuna Pasta with Olives and Capers

This is another recipe that is quick and easy to prepare. The secret to making this dish is using the right kind of canned tuna. I prefer using the Hot and Spicy Century Tuna, which is a Filipino brand. I just supplemented it with another canned tuna in oil since I’m making a big batch of pasta.

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To make, cook 1 pack of spaghetti according to package directions. While your pasta is cooking you can start making your sauce. Heat a pan and add 2-3 Tbsp. of olive oil. Then add 2 cloves of finely minced garlic and cook until fragrant, do not let it turn brown. Then add your canned spicy tuna (note: use 2 if making a big batch), 1 small can of black olives, about 2 Tbsp. green olives and 1 Tbsp. capers. Cook until just heated through being careful not to break up the tuna. Place your cooked pasta from the pot directly to your sauce and toss. Add about 1/4 cup of pasta water if it’s a bit dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place is a wide bowl and sprinkle with some parmesan cheese and chopped parsley of top. I also like to squeeze a lemon just before serving.

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Spanish Sardines Pasta

Mary Grace cafe is my favorite restaurant in Manila. During our last visit to the Philippines, we ate there several times. I just love their pastas, specially their sardine pasta.

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I have tried to recreate their sardine pasta a couple of times without much success. The pasta becomes too fishy even after adding capers, olives and other spices I can think of. Until I had a sort of epiphany – omitting onions in the recipe. I find that sautéing garlic, onions and tomatoes to make the sauce makes it taste like “Guinisang Sardinas” and this is not the flavor I am aiming for.

To make this dish, you will need a bottle of Spanish sardines in olive oil. I used the Philippine brand San Sebastian which I got at our local Asian grocer.

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Start by cooking your pasta. Take out 1/2 of the dried fettuccine from a 1 lb box and cook according to package directions.

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While your pasta is cooking, heat a pan and add about 4 Tbsp. olive oil. Add two roma tomatoes that has been diced and seeded and 2 cloves of finely minced garlic. Cook until the tomatoes have released a bit of it juices but has not turned mushy. Add 5-6 pieces of baby portabella mushrooms that has been sliced and a small can of black olives. Continue cooking until just heated through. Add half of the contents of the bottled sardines and break it into big chunks while stirring. Then add your cooked pasta from the water to the pan using tongs. Gently toss until pasta is coated with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Place in big bowls and sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top. Serve with a side of garlic bread. This recipe serves two.

Note: you can substitute a can of sliced button mushrooms for the baby portabella

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