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Spicing it up with Sichuan

  • PHOTO COURTESY NEW YORK TIMES

In this 20-minute recipe, a mixture of savory condiments coats bowlfuls of wide noodles chilled slightly by a quick rinse in cool water. While you cook the udon, take the time to prepare the sauce, abundant with contrasting flavors, and

the fresh herbs. The sauce can be made in advance, but make sure it’s at room temperature before tossing it with the noodles and the cilantro at the last minute. Substitutions are welcome: Swap in chile crisp in place of the chile oil with crunchy garlic, or scallions in place of garlic chives.

Sichuan chile oil brings a citrusy flavor that is hard to replicate, so don’t skip it. It can vary in spice level: For a milder sauce, use only the liquid oil, or add Sichuan peppercorns from the bottom of the oil for extra tingle. Fried shallots are here for texture, but omit them if you use chile crisp.

Chile-oil noodles with cilantro

Ingredients:

• 14 ounces dried udon noodles

• 1/4 cup chile oil with crunchy garlic

• 2 tablespoons pure sesame oil

• 2 teaspoons Sichuan chile oil, to taste

• 2 teaspoons soy sauce

• 1/2 cup garlic chives or scallions, finely sliced, plus more for garnish

• 2 tablespoons store-bought fried shallots, crumbled by hand (optional)

• 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped, plus a few sprigs for garnish

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook noodles according to package instructions, stirring from time to time to prevent them from sticking. Drain well in a colander, then run noodles under cold water until cooled.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine all three oils with the soy sauce and 1/2 cup garlic chives.

Toss cooled noodles into the chile oil mixture. Gently fold in the crumbled fried shallots and chopped cilantro. Divide among four bowls, and top with more garlic chives and cilantro sprigs.

Total time: 20 minutes, serves 4.

Tips:

For crisp cilantro, place leaves and stems in an ice water bath until the leaves are firm. Drain and spin in a salad spinner.

Store cilantro in the spinner and refrigerate until ready to use.

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