Xi’an Famous Foods Ramen
Xi’an Famous Foods started as a humble food stall in Flushing, New York, in 2005. Fast-forward 15 years and Xi’an is a much-beloved noodle shop with 14 locations across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Specializing in the food of Western China, Xi’an came out with its first cookbook last fall, so everyone — no matter where they live — can have access to their iconic dishes.
This ramen recipe is from the new cookbook, and it’s remarkably light, fresh and full of flavor. The chicken broth is savory and salty, and the sweet and tangy vinegar adds a brightness that sets it apart from other ramens we’ve had. The tomatoes also add a rich, slightly sweet bite; it’s a fun, unexpected treat to have tomatoes bursting with juice in a ramen dish.
You can save time (without sacrificing too much flavor) by using your favorite chili oil. If you feel like fully immersing yourself in the flavors and techniques of Western Chinese cuisine, try making your own Xi’an Famous Foods chili oil, which adds a pure heat and mild, peppery, onion flavor that fills every bite.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
1 package dried instant ramen and seasoning packet (any brand)
½ tablespoon malt vinegar, plus more to finish
Xi’an Famous Foods Chili Oil (or your favorite chili oil), to taste
¼ large tomato, roughly cut into wedges
¼ green onion, trimmed and chopped
¼ stalk celery, chopped
1 baby bok choy or ½ cup Napa cabbage, torn into bite-size pieces
Toasted sesame oil, to finish
Kosher salt, to finish
- Bring a medium-size pot of water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, add half the ramen seasoning packet (or as much as you desire based on your sodium preference) to a large soup bowl. Add the malt vinegar and season with chili oil. Stir to combine.
- Once the water starts boiling, add the instant ramen noodles and wait until the water comes back to a boil.
- Add the tomatoes, green onions and celery to the pot and stir to submerge the vegetables. Quickly move the noodles and vegetables aside, creating a pocket of space, and crack the egg into the boiling water. Poach the egg for 1 minute. You could also fry the egg separately, sunny-side up, if preferred.
- Add the bok choy or Napa cabbage. Cook for up to 1 minute, then remove from heat.
- Carefully ladle some of the cooking water into your soup bowl with the dry seasoning, malt vinegar and chili oil. This will determine how much broth your ramen will have.
- Transfer the noodles to the soup bowl, mixing with chopsticks or a fork until evenly combined.
- Strain the egg and vegetables from the pot and place them on top of the noodles.
- Finish with a few drops of toasted sesame oil, and season with salt, additional chili oil and malt vinegar.
Xi’an Famous Foods Chili Oil
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
2 cups red chile flakes
4 cups canola or soybean oil
1 ½ teaspoons black peppercorns
4 star anise pods
4 whole cloves
5 bay leaves
1 ½ teaspoons coriander seeds
1 green onion, trimmed and roughly chopped
¼ medium red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly sliced
Splash of malt vinegar
- Place the red chile flakes into a large, heatproof pot big enough to hold 8 to 10 cups of liquid. Set aside.
- In a separate medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat until a thermometer registers 300 F.
- Add the black peppercorns, star anise, cloves, bay leaves and coriander seeds. Then, carefully place the green onions, red onions and ginger into the hot oil. Bring the temperature of the oil up to 350 F. Maintain the temperature by carefully moving the pot off the heat if it gets too hot and putting it back on the heat if it gets too cool. Fry the spices and onions in the oil until they are fragrant but not blackened, about 3 minutes. Strain the solids from the oil, but keep the oil. (You can discard the aromatics or reserve them to enhance a broth or stew later.)
- Reheat the oil to 450 F, then turn off the burner and carefully remove the pot from the heat.
- While wearing oven mitts and long sleeves, gradually and very carefully pour the hot oil into the pot with the red chile flakes, stirring carefully to make sure the hot oil coats the chile flakes. The oil will bubble and fry; let it cook until the bubbling subsides. NOTE: this will create a lot of smoke, so do this step outdoors, if you can, or in a well-ventilated area.
- Add a splash of malt vinegar to add more flavor and bring down the temperature so the chile flakes don’t burn.
- Let the oil cool to room temperature, then let it rest, covered, for 10 to 12 hours or overnight. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.
Recipe from Xi’an Famous Foods Cookbook: The Cuisine of Western China, from New York’s Favorite Noodle Shop by Jason Wang with Jessica K. Chou.