Umami Garlic Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms and Broccolini

published Aug 26, 2021
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Umami Garlic Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms and Broccolini Recipe

Mì Xào Tỏi, a longstanding Viet-American favorite got its start in the late 1970s, where it was served with roasted crab and giant prawns.

Serves4

Prep15 minutes

Cook15 minutes to 20 minutes

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noodles in bowl with fork
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

If you adore the creamy savoriness of fettuccine Alfredo, consider adding Vietnamese garlic noodles to your repertoire. Called mì xào tỏi, this longstanding Viet-American favorite got its start in the late 1970s at a San Francisco restaurant called Thanh Long, where it’s served with roasted crab and giant prawns. Its popularity has grown so much in the Bay Area that today you can order it with barbecued brisket, fried chicken, and gumbo. I’ve even spotted garlic noodles on food truck and pop-up menus. 

That said, I prefer to savor garlic noodles without distractions to fully enjoy all the butteriness, sweet garlic pungency, and alluring umami flavors that keep me coming back for more. Here, I’m sharing one of my favorite preparations: garlic noodles with mushrooms and Broccolini, which makes for a quick, healthyish weeknight meal.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

3 Tips for the Best Garlic Noodles

  1. Soak the garlic. The garlicky flavor of this dish can linger the morning after, and who wants a recipe that may ruin date night? To combat this — and prevent the garlic from scorching during cooking — soak the minced garlic in water for a few minutes. The hydration tames the pungent flavor and facilitates gentle cooking.
  2. Use high-quality butter. Tasty butter is key to making these noodles sing. Old-school Viet cooks have a penchant for Bretel, a canned cultured butter from Normandy, which the French introduced to Vietnam. Using salted European-style butter, such as Kerrygold, is my modern nod. Liquid seasonings, such as oyster sauce and fish sauce, support and build on the butter’s umami goodness, but vegetarians can use 2 teaspoons each of soy sauce and Bragg Liquid Aminos (or Maggi Seasoning sauce).
  3. Add MSG. A glutamate-rich flavor enhancer sends this dish over the top. You can use MSG here to great effect. Look for Accent, a well-distributed brand, in the spice aisle at supermarkets.

Umami Garlic Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms and Broccolini Recipe

Mì Xào Tỏi, a longstanding Viet-American favorite got its start in the late 1970s, where it was served with roasted crab and giant prawns.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4

    large garlic cloves

  • 8

    large fresh shiitake mushrooms or cremini mushrooms

  • 1 bunch

    Broccolini (about 8 ounces)

  • 1/2

    small shallot

  • 10 ounces

    dried Chinese wheat noodles or Japanese ramen

  • 1 tablespoon

    plus 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1 tablespoon

    oyster sauce

  • 2 teaspoons

    fish sauce

  • 1 teaspoon

    cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    MSG, scant 1/2 teaspoon chicken stock base, or 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 4 tablespoons

    salted, European-style butter, divided

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Fill a large pot with 4 quarts water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, mince or push 4 large garlic cloves through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon). Place in a small bowl and add about 1 tablespoon water to just barely cover (the garlic will eventually absorb most of the water). Slice 8 large shiitake or cremini mushrooms, including the stems, 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick. Halve 1 bunch Broccolini lengthwise if thick; cut the broccolini crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Mince 1/2 small shallot (about 1 tablespoon) and add to the bowl of garlic.

  2. Add 10 ounces dried wheat noodles or ramen and 1 tablespoon kosher salt to the boiling water. Boil the noodles until just chewy-firm; they’ll soften more later. Ladle out 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid into a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse with cool water.

  3. Add 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, 2 teaspoons fish sauce, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon MSG (or see above substitutes), and 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar to the reserved cooking liquid and stir to combine.

  4. If the pot that you cooked the noodles in is wide enough to comfortably sauté the mushrooms and broccolini, melt 2 tablespoons of the salted butter in it over medium-high heat; if not, use a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and Broccolini, season with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms start to brown and the Broccolini brightens in color and is just tender, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer the vegetables to a plate or bowl.

  5. Return the pot to the hot, turned-off burner. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons salted butter, shallot, and garlic (no need to drain first). Turn the heat on to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is fragrant and some pieces are golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cooking water mixture (stir first if the cornstarch has settled) and vegetables, stir, and increase the heat slightly.

  6. When the sauce starts bubbling, add the noodles. Using tongs and a spoon, combine and coat the noodles in sauce. If the dish looks too thick or tastes too salty, add a tiny splash of water. Turn off the heat and let rest for a minute. Serve the noodles in individual pasta bowls.

Recipe Notes

Shopping for noodles: Some cooks prefer fresh noodles, but I’ve found dried ones are fine. Shop for them at an Asian market or the Asian food section at a standard supermarket.

Adapted with permission from Andrea Nguyen’s Vietnamese Food Any Day (Ten Speed Press, 2019)