Meatless Monday: Hot and Sour Fresh Noodles

By: Lauren Miyashiro
Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

Thinking about ordering in for dinner tonight? Instead of reaching for the take-out menu of your neighborhood Chinese restaurant, head to the kitchen and start heating up the wok. You can whip together your favorite Chinese noodles in well under an hour.

Ching's recipe for Hot and Sour Fresh Noodles is lighter than what you would typically order at a restaurant so you’ll feel better about polishing off a big bowl.  It’s the perfect balance between spicy and tangy, and the crisp zucchini adds a nice contrast of texture to the soft noodles. The fresh ginger, chilies and garlic combined with the soy sauce and vinegar make for a fragrant dish you'll crave time and time again.

This recipe is flexible. You can easily add in as many veggies as you want for some extra crunch. If you’re not a fan of spicy foods, scale back on the amount of chilies and chili oil you add. Sesame oil and rice wine vinegar can be found in most grocery stores and are worth having in your pantry.

2 tablespoons peanut oil
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 medium green chile, seeded and finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorns, plus more, cracked and toasted, for garnish, optional

2 whole dried red chiles, such as Arbol
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1/2 cup black rice vinegar
1/4 cup chili oil, plus more for garnish

3 zucchini, about 6-inches long, sliced lengthwise into thin strips with a vegetable peeler

1 pound fresh wheat-flour noodles, cooked according to package instructions and rinsed

1 small handful chopped fresh cilantro
Toasted sesame oil, for garnish, optional
1 medium red chile, seeded and finely chopped

Heat a wok over medium-high heat until smoking. Pour in the peanut oil and swirl in the pan until hot. Stir-fry the garlic, ginger, and fresh green and red chiles until softened, about 1 minute, and then toss in the whole peppercorns and dried chiles and stir-fry briefly to toast.

Pour in the soy sauce, rice vinegar and chili oil, reduce the heat to medium low and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini and cook until crisp-tender and bright green, about 30 seconds. Drain the zucchini strips in a colander, shaking well to remove excess water, and then add to the wok along with the cooked noodles. Stir gently until warm and evenly dressed with the fragrant oil.

Transfer the noodles to a serving platter and garnish with cilantro, cracked toasted peppercorns, if using, and a drizzle of sesame oil, if using. Serve immediately.

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