The Best Garlic Noodles
Garlic noodles are an irresistible combination of garlic and carbs. Most versions involve Asian-style noodles tossed in an umami-packed sauce featuring garlic and oyster sauce, but I do mine a little differently.
To get the most flavor into the dish, I like to include garlic in three forms: fresh, caramelized, and black. Although I skip the oyster sauce, the combination of the black garlic, soy sauce, and nutritional yeast creates a convincing alternative that packs just as much flavor while also being vegan-friendly.
Why This Recipe is the Best
- Using three forms of garlic introduces a broad spectrum of flavors and tastes that makes this sauce taste much more complex than it actually is.
- Creating an emulsion of Triple Garlic Sauce and the boiling liquid from the noodles makes a smooth, creamy sauce that coats each strand of noodle in flavor without overcooking the noodles.
- The leftover sauce can be used as a condiment for various dishes, including ramen, fried rice, vegetables, and meat.
Ingredients for Garlic Noodles
- Garlic - Most of the garlic gets caramelized, bringing out its sweetness and flavor while mellowing it out. I like to reserve a small amount of raw garlic to add back into the sauce, which lets you add in some spicy punch without overwhelming the other ingredients.
- Black Garlic - Black garlic is made by heating and aging garlic for a few weeks. This induces Maillard browning, turning the pungent cloves of garlic into sweet umami bombs that taste more like miso or oyster sauce than garlic.
- Vegetable Oil - The oil is used for frying the garlic while thinning out the sauce enough to toss with the noodles.
- Soy Sauce - Soy sauce is the primary seasoning for this Triple Garlic Sauce, and it adds a ton of umami to the dish.
- Nutritional Yeast - Not to be confused with baking yeast, nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast loaded with b-vitamins and amino acids. The latter makes it an excellent ingredient for adding a ton of umami to anything, including these garlic noodles.
- Toasted Sesame Oil - Toasted sesame oil has a nutty aroma that compliments the earthy black garlic beautifully. If you can't find it, toasted pumpkin seed oil or hazelnut oil make suitable substitutes.
- Onion Powder - Another member of the Allium genus, onions add a sweeter flavor to the sauce. I used roasted onion powder, but regular onion powder works fine.
- Noodles - I've used thick ramen noodles for this, but any noodle or pasta works. I've made this using everything from udon to linguine.
- Scallions - Garnishing the noodles with some vibrant green onions not only adds a pop of color they also add a nice crisp texture and fresh onion flavor to the noodles.
- Black Pepper - A bit of freshly cracked black pepper adds a spicy kick to the noodles. You can also use crushed red chili peppers for a different kind of heat.
How to Make Garlic Noodles
The first thing you want to do is peel and mince the garlic. Watch my video below for some tips on peeling and chopping a lot of garlic.
Reserve about a clove worth of garlic for later and dump the rest into a frying pan along with half of the vegetable oil. Fry the garlic over medium-low heat until it's golden in color. You want to go slow and low here so that you don't burn the garlic. Otherwise, the sauce will end up bitter. Keep in mind the residual heat in the pan, and oil will continue cooking the garlic after you take it off the heat, so stop cooking it when it's reached the color of honey. The oil is very hot, so let it cool a bit, so you don't melt anything.
To puree the garlic sauce, add the cooled fried garlic (along with the oil) to a beaker, blender, or food processor. Add the remaining oil, black garlic, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, toasted sesame oil, and onion powder. Blend the mixture until smooth.
Boil the noodles according to the package directions. When they're cooked, transfer the noodles directly to a boil using tongs or chopsticks. Set the boiling liquid aside.
Add about half of the Triple Garlic Sauce to the noodles, and then add a small ladleful of noodle water to the mixture.
Use two forks or tongs to toss the noodles together with the sauce and water to coat the noodles evenly. Taste the noodles and add more sauce as needed. You can also add more boiling liquid as necessary to keep the noodles from sticking together.
Top your garlic noodles with chopped scallions and give it a few cracks of black pepper to serve.
Save the remaining garlic sauce for another batch of noodles, or use it as a condiment in stir-fries, soups or stews.
Other Noodle Recipes
Garlic Noodles were first created by the Vietnamese restaurant Thanh Long in San Francisco to complement their seafood offerings. They're made by tossing noodles or pasta in a savory garlic sauce that's usually made with oil, garlic, oyster sauce, and soy sauce.
This Garlic Noodle recipe is plant-based. Many recipes call for oyster sauce, though, so if you're not making it yourself, be sure to ask.
Garlic noodles make a great side dish for proteins like my crispy tofu bites, kung pao tofu, black pepper beef, or orange chicken. You can also add some vegetables and protein to the noodles to make it a one-dish meal.
For Triple Garlic Sauce
- 70 grams garlic (~1 large head, finely minced)
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 45 grams black garlic (~8 large cloves, peeled)
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
For Garlic Noodles
- 260 grams fresh noodles
- Scallions (chopped for garnish)
- Black pepper (for garnish)
- To make the Triple Garlic Sauce, set about a clove's worth of minced garlic aside. Then add the rest to a frying pan with about half of the vegetable oil. Put the pan over medium-low heat and slowly fry the garlic until it's light brown in color and very fragrant. Be careful not to burn it. Let this cool.
- Add the remaining oil, black garlic, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, toasted sesame oil, and onion powder to a beaker or bowl of a blender/food processor. When the fried garlic has cooled, add it in with the other ingredients along with the oil. Blend the mixture until smooth.
- To make the garlic noodles, boil the noodles according to the package directions. Transfer the noodles directly to a bowl using tongs or chopsticks, reserving the boiling liquid.
- Add a few large spoonfuls of Triple Garlic Sauce onto the noodles and a ladleful of the boiling liquid from the noodles.
- Toss together to emulsify the water with the sauce and coat the noodles. Taste and add more sauce if needed. If the noodles start to stick together, just add some more boiling liquid.
- Garnish the garlic noodles with chopped scallions and freshly cracked black pepper.
CONRAD LEHMAN says
WHAT IS BLACK GARLIC?
Marc Matsumoto says
Hi Conrad, please read the headnotes. It's explained there.
Christina Yokoi says
This looks amazing! I can't wait to try it! Do you make your own black garlic or do you buy it? If you buy, what brand do you recommend?
Marc Matsumoto says
Thanks Christina! I buy my black garlic from a small farm in Aomori prefecture in Japan. It's a mom and pop operation and to be honest I'm not even sure what their name is. If you're in Japan let me know and I'll make it a point to ask the next time I buy some.
This recipe is great. Have made it with different types of noodles and have added veggies to it. Thanks for putting this together!
Marc Matsumoto says
Thank you, I'm happy to hear you have been enjoying it! The sauce for this is also great in stir-fries, or as a condiment for soups, stews, French fries, etc.