This Spicy Garlic Noodles served with Tamarind Chicken is another great noodle and chicken combo that’s perfect for weekday dinners!
Another great noodles & chicken combo
If you asked me what I wanted for Christmas 10 years ago, I likely would’ve answered with the name of a gadget. If you ask me today however, I would actually say that I want a legit indoor grill. Not a new iPhone or MacBook, but a grill! Apparently my imagination isn’t as wild as I deemed it to be, because I never even imagined I would ever wish for a grill lol.
My Amazon wishlist right now is actually made up of a weird hodge-podge of kitchen stuff, cookbooks, and art materials, but what features prominently are a couple of indoor grill models I’m eyeing. And if I ever get to buy one of them, the first thing I’m cooking to break it in is the Tamarind Chicken recipe in this post. If you watched my video above, you would have seen me using a tiny tiny square of an electric grill to cook the chicken. It’s one of those sets with the interchangeable plates, and frankly I primarily use the thing to make takoyaki. This was the first time I used it to grill meat because I was hoping for some char marks.
Now don’t get me wrong: The Tamarind Chicken came out delicious. With the combination of flavors in the marinade of the chicken, it seems impossible that this would taste bad. However, I am fully aware that it would’ve tasted even better cooked on a grill that actually allows the oils to drip down. This way, the skin can crisp up and become more caramelized and charred.
Taking it a step further would be to use a charcoal grill to add some of that smoky flavor to the chicken. Honestly I’m not too keen on grilling outdoors so I’m just aiming for a nice smokeless electric indoor grill for my kitchen. Let’s see if it becomes a reality some time in the future.
Anyway, I decided to pair this flavorful sweet-sour-salty Tamarind Chicken with some Spicy Chili Garlic Noodles for flavor contrast. My gosh. IT WAS SO GOOD! Noodle recipes like this one are like no-fail recipes to be honest, and they come together in no-time. The noodles has that magical formula of spicy, savory, salty, sour, and garlicky in one dish that kind of just makes you keep wanting to stuff yourself. You can swap out your usual instant noodle for this recipe any time, any day– even if you decide not to make the chicken.
I will say though that this combo is definitely one for the books. The chicken and noodles are both flavor bombs that take your tastebuds for a ride! They’re already great on their own but also go really well together. The chicken has a bit of tart sweetness that kind of tempers the heat of the noodles. I honestly do not even know what else to say except that if you’re looking for a simple but special-tasting meal like the Mushroom Truffle Pasta-Spiced Chicken combo I previously shared, THIS IS THE ONE. I can literally feel my mouth watering right now…
My notes on this recipe
I recommend using wheat noodles for the Chili Garlic Noodles.
The flavor of the sauce will be most prominent if you use wheat noodles for this recipe. I personally prefer using Taiwanese Guan Miao Noodles, particularly the wide knife-cut variety. Straight noodles are okay as well, but I prefer the wider kind of noodles as there’s more surface area for the sauce to cling to! This is the noodle brand that I use for pretty much every Chinese-style noodle dish I make at home and it’s a favorite of the family as well. (The listing description says “egg noodles” but this is actually wheat noodles. This is not an affiliate link, by the way. Just sharing what I like!)
Use your favorite chili crisp sauce for the noodles.
Like many people who like spicy food or cooking spicy Asian dishes, we often have Lao Gan Ma in the kitchen. I often use it to make noodles where the chili sauce is just mixed with hot oil to activate the flavors (like this one), and it has worked well every time. Feel free to use any other brand of chili sauce that you have. The flavor of the noodles will be even better if the quality of your chili sauce is higher than Lao Gan Ma.
You can start with the ratio of seasonings listed in the recipe box below, then tweak the measurements to your liking. Personally, the recipe below has my golden ratio. I already slightly modified the measurements from the original recipe to suit my taste.
Store leftover Garlic Chili Oil in a jar.
According to the original creator of the recipe Drive Me Hungry, this chili oil will keep for up to 3 days at room temp in a jar. If planning to store longer, store in a sterilized jar in the fridge. The oil will harden but will melt right back at room temp. Ours never last past a day because I make lots of noodles with it, but you can use this chili oil for other purposes, such as with your dimsum!
You can find tamarind paste in the Asian aisle of every grocery store these days.
I don’t really know what is the best brand of tamarind paste for cooking since I don’t use it often, but this brand is the most accessible to me. I’m happy to report that I was able to make some delicious Tamarind Chicken using this tamarind paste, so I’m thinking most brands that are made in Thailand should do the job. And while you’re at it, grab some Thai fish sauce as well.
You can cook the Tamarind Chicken on the stove if you don’t have a grill.
While there will be some nuances to the Tamarind Chicken’s flavor and texture (particularly with the skin) that can only be achieved with a grill, it is totally fine to just cook these babies in a skillet. Heck, you can even use a portable Korean BBQ grill if you have that! The beauty of this recipe is that it will still taste great using other cooking methods, as long as you give it ample time to sit in the marinade.
Regardless of your cooking method, remember not to overcook your chicken so it doesn’t become dry and tough… Although that’s very difficult to do with the thigh part in my experience.
Spicy Chili Garlic Noodles
For serving the noodles
- 4 servings uncooked flat or wide Chinese wheat noodles, about 225 grams total
- 2 stalks scallion, chopped
- Cilantro, for garnish
- Sesame seeds, for garnish
For the Szechuan-style garlic chili oil
- 6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 Tablespoons Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Sauce or similar, more or less to taste
- 2 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons hot chili oil, or more Lao Gan Ma
- 2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook noodles according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, prepare the chili oil. In a small saucepan over medium low heat, heat the vegetable oil. Toss in garlic and sauté until it becomes aromatic and turns slightly golden but not quite toasted.
- Remove from heat and add the rest of the sauce ingredients into the saucepan. Mix until well combined.
- If not using immediately, sauce can be transferred to a jar with a lid. (You will want to cool it down first.) This makes a little over 2/3 cup of sauce. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge up to 3 days.
- Drain freshly cooked noodles and add as much of the garlic chili oil as you like. Be generous! The more chili oil, the more flavorful the noodles will be. Mix well to coat each strand of noodle.
- Top with fresh cilantro, scallions, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds, if desired. Serve immediately, with Tamarind Chicken (recipe below).
Watch how it's made
- 4 pieces bone-in leg quarters or boneless chicken thighs, about 1 kilogram in total
- ¾ cup tamarind paste
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons fish sauce, Thai brand recommended
- 2½ Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- Zest of 1 lime or lemon
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice
- Freshly-cracked black pepper, for topping
- In a bowl, mix all the marinade ingredients together until combined. Line up the chicken on a medium tray, then pour the marinade on top and coat all over. Make sure every piece of chicken is submerged in the marinade. Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. (I like to use boneless chicken thighs for this recipe.)
- When ready to cook, heat up charcoal grill or indoor grill (or even just your skillet). This chicken will taste best cooked over a charcoal grill but I only used a mini electric grill since it's what I have at this time. Cooking time of the chicken will vary depending on cut and thickness. (Instructions for charcoal grill in the notes section below.)
- First, cook the chicken skin-side down until the skin looks caramelized, about 10 minutes. Spoon excess marinade over the exposed side of the chicken, then grind some black pepper on top. (If using a skillet, if you cover the chicken as it cooks, the trapped heat will help cook it faster and retain the chicken’s juiciness.) Try not to move the chicken around too much as you cook.
- Flip chicken and cook other side the same way, about 10 minutes. If you want to char the skin a little, you can flip the chicken skin-side down again and cook a few more minutes. Chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 160°F (71°C). (The down-side to cooking on a skillet or indoor grill is that the fat that the chicken releases is trapped inside the pan and can prevent the skin from crisping up. It will still caramelize however.)
- Serve the chicken immediately while hot. If desired, use kitchen scissors to cut chicken into thick strips, then serve with some spicy noodles on the side (recipe above).
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