Scallion Oil Noodles (葱油拌面 / cōng yóu bàn miàn)

March 30, 2021
7 Ratings
Photo by Betty Liu
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

You haven’t experienced Shanghai until you’ve had a bowl of scallion oil noodles. It’s a quintessential old Shanghai dish, a humble, yet extremely satisfying, bowl of noodles. This dish reveals the secret of that complex umami flavor used in many of Shanghai’s signature dishes: scallion oil. Scallions are slowly fried in oil so that their flavor infuses it. This flavored oil serves as the base of the dish. By itself, the soy sauce–rock sugar mix makes a lovely, deep, sweet yet savory sauce, but it often needs something else—pork, chicken, eggplant, or loads of scallions—for additional flavor. Dried shrimp is an excellent addition that supplies an extra bit of umami. If you’re craving something with more protein, fry some ground pork in your scallion oil until browned and crisp, then turn off the heat and proceed with the recipe.

Note: You can also make scallion oil ahead of time. Quadruple the recipe below and follow the steps. Let it cool and pour it into a sterile jar; it will keep in the fridge for up to 1 month. Use it anytime to elevate any dish you’re making.

From the book My Shanghai by Betty Liu. Copyright © 2021 by Betty Liu. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.Betty

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Scallion Oil Noodles (葱油拌面 / cōng yóu bàn miàn)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried shrimp
  • 6 to 8 scallions, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) segments
  • 3 tablespoons neutral cooking oil, such as canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon crushed rock sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch ground white pepper
  • 1/2 pound (225 g) fresh Shanghai-style thin noodles, cooked to al dente (or 2 servings of any dried noodles. I’ve used soba and ramen noodles with great effect.)
  1. Place the dried shrimp in a small bowl with hot water to cover and soak for 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Smash the scallions with the side of a meat cleaver. Pat dry with a paper towel to avoid any water droplets from causing the oil to splatter during stir-frying.
  3. Heat the oil in a well-seasoned wok over medium-low. Add the scallion segments and let them fry slowly, so they turn yellow without burning. Stir occasionally so the segments brown evenly. This slowly rendered-out flavor is essential to this recipe—be patient and let the toasty flavor infuse the oil. I usually let the scallions cook for 20 to 30 minutes, but for a deeper flavor cook them at a lower heat for longer, even up to 1 hour. I’ll often make big batches of this oil that I store in the refrigerator; for this recipe I use 3 tablespoons. Reduce the heat to low, add the shrimp, and cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, mix together the dark and light soy sauces, vinegar, and sugar.
  5. Increase the heat to medium and immediately pour the soy sauce mixture into the wok. The sauce will bubble finely and foam (if it bubbles too much, your heat is too high) and begin to caramelize. Stir to dissolve the sugar and let simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to thicken. Turn off the heat. Add a pinch of white pepper. Add the cooked noodles to the wok and toss to combine. Divide the noodles between two bowls, making sure to scoop up the scallion segments.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nareen Kaur
    Nareen Kaur
  • So sett
    So sett
  • Brinda Ayer
    Brinda Ayer
  • J Stiefel
    J Stiefel
betty is a food blogger and wedding photographer based in Boston, MA.

11 Reviews

J S. April 23, 2022
I've made this probably 10 times and it's always been really good! I never have used dried shrimp as it's not something I keep on hand, but even without it, the noodles have a very addicting balance of sweet, salty, and umami. When I'm in the mood for an additional savory/spicy kick, I add a couple smashed garlic cloves in with the scallions and a pinch of chili flakes in the last few minutes before adding the soy sauce mixture.
courttan October 3, 2021
Really tasty! I made it both the vegetarian way and with shrimp, both are great!
Peony September 5, 2021
This was so delicious, quadrupled it since we were 8 people. Made the scallion oil the night before and cooked and cooled off the noodles (with cold water) a few hours prior to dinner. Cooked regular shrimp in a bit of the oil and set them aside to add at the end. Didn’t use dried shrimp at all. Couldn’t find dark soy so substituted with regular soy sauce and some molasses. A big hit and doing the two big things beforehand made it so quick to pull the dish together.
txchick57 May 1, 2021
My Shanghai is a great book.
Nareen K. April 15, 2021
This was great! Super tasty and simple to make. Might try it with some bok choy or tofu next time.
txchick57 April 2, 2021
Delicious. I top it with pieces o sauteed tofu.
So S. April 1, 2021
Yummm... don't feel the dried shrimps or any other proteins are necessary to be honest
Raymond March 31, 2021
Did you forget the dried shrimps?
Brinda A. April 1, 2021
I'm vegetarian so I left it out!
Japito March 30, 2021
Very tasty and simple, will do again!
KATHRYN W. March 28, 2021
So satisfying and so simple, all I needed to buy was the black vinegar. Yum!