It all starts with a bottle of hoisin, a thick Chinese sauce that can be a glaze, a dipping sauce, a marinade or—in this case—the secret to getting a boldly flavored noodle dish on the table in minutes.
Hoisin is the sort of condiment that will change the way you cook. Layered with savory complexity from fermented soybean paste, chili peppers, garlic and spices, it’s a sweet-salty-savory umami bomb that transforms a dish.
In the case of these 20-minute hoisin noodles, we pair them with fiery chili-garlic sauce, zingy grated ginger and the rich depth of sesame oil—all staples of the Milk Street pantry—to create an unbelievably flavorful sauce with which to dress noodles. A scattering of chopped scallions, for freshness, completes the dish.
It’s a great example of a lesson cooks around the world know: Dinner doesn’t need to feel like a scramble. Armed with a few high-impact ingredients—balsamic vinegars, fish sauces and misos—one can easily and quickly transform whatever is on hand into satisfying and boldly flavored meals.
That’s also the concept of “Cook What You Have,” our upcoming book. More than 200 recipes—all with eight ingredients or fewer—that help you turn pantry staples into amazing meals inspired by cooking from around world.
The dishes that inspired our hoisin noodles typically are made with udon, a thick, chewy Japanese wheat noodle. But pantry cooking is flexible cooking, so we developed our recipe to work equally well with linguine or dried lo mein. You’ll be surprised how many meals are hiding in your cabinet.