I know, it’s been, like, a week since I posted my Seared Ribeye with Chili Crisp Butter and here I am with yet another chili crisp creation. It’s okay, you can think I’m obsessed. I know I am. And if you’ve ever tasted the magic that is Lao Gan Ma’s Spicy Chili Crisp, I’m confident you are as well. So you will forgive me for posting these Chili Crisp Tahini Noodles on the heels of that unforgettable butter. These noodles just demanded to be made. And with the official arrival of summer, this chilled noodle dish is a very helpful and heatwave-friendly meal to have in your back pocket. So repeat ingredients aside, this is all very timely.
See that wee bowl of peanuts in the top of the frame? Yeah, those were supposed to be in the final dish but they never made it. You see, when I shoot photos for my recipes, I also shoot video clips, which I turn into Reels and TikToks. Not to complain about my self-imposed creative workload, but it is a lot. And in that sea of “a lot”, things inevitably fall through the cracks. Even important things, like delicious peanuts. And the worst part of this snafu is I didn’t even notice they were missing until I finished devouring the bowl. So attentive to my craft. So so attentive.
I mention all of this to make a point. Well, a couple of points, the first being I should probably get more sleep. The second, and more important one, is recipes were made to be altered. I am, by nature, an ingredient magpie. If it’s in my cupboard, I will try to shoehorn it into whatever I’m making. That is, of course, only if the ingredient in question works within the larger dish. I don’t generally try to force things. But I’m always a little embarrassed when I finish writing a recipe and find it contains 16 ingredients. It’s cringeworthy because this is a five-ingredient-or-less dominated world and I’m just trying to live in it.
Again, I don’t say all of this to complain. I say this to alleviate any ingredient-related anxieties my recipes may cause. There are certain ingredients that are non-negotiable. The tahini and the chili crisp being two such ingredients in these Chili Crisp Tahini Noodles. Not exactly a revelation – they both have top billing. But things like the quick-pickled cucumber and/or whole peanuts are delicious but they are merely nice to have. Without them, you’ll still have a bowl of kickass noodles. But having said that, these noodles and quick-pickled cucumbers do work incredibly well together. So if you can spare the time and the cuke, I’d say go for it.
So with that out of the way, let’s break down this dish, shall we? Everything starts with a marinade for the bok choy. And this marinade is a combination of black vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and, you guessed it, chili crisp. The bok choy luxuriates in there for 3 hours. After the marinating time elapses, the marinade is repurposed for the dressing. This is the major bonus of marinating vegetables. You can reuse the marinade without cooking it down to kill off any harmful bacteria. You simply pour it over the tahini and away you go.
While the bok choy soaks, the pickles pickle. We’re all about efficiency here. Well, that’s not entirely true. Please see my last recipe.😅 But I do like tackling every component of a recipe that can survive or even benefits from some time in the fridge first. So in the case of these noodles, that means the quick-pickled cucumbers, the bok choy, and the dressing.
Now, obviously, we have to hold off on the dressing until the bok choy has finished bathing in half of it. But once the bok choy is out of the marinade, you can whisk up the dressing and pause the whole production. Yes, you don’t have to make these noodles all in one go. You can prep this meal up to 3 days in advance. And when you’re finally ready for noodles, you only need to cook them, toss them in the dressing, and grill your bok choy. See? I can make express meals, you just have to do a little work ahead of time…I might be missing the point of express meals.
So that’s everything you need to know about these Chili Crisp Tahini Noodles with Grilled Bok Choy. They are killer on a hot day, easily customizable, and incredibly peanut-friendly provided you remember to add them. 😅
Chili Crisp Tahini Noodles with Grilled Bok Choy
- BBQ grill or cast-iron griddle
Quick Pickled Cucumbers
- ¼ cucumber sliced thin on a mandoline
- 2 shallots sliced thin
- 2 green finger peppers sliced
- 2 dried hot peppers
- 2 star anise pods
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp demerara sugar
- ½ cup rice wine vinegar
Chili Crisp Tahini Noodles
- 4 heads bok choy split in half
- 3 tbsp soy sauce divided
- 3 tbsp black vinegar divided
- 2 tbsp Lao Gan Ma's Spicy Chili Crisp (see note 1) divided
- 2 tbsp honey divided
- ½ cup tahini
- ¼ cup water
- 454g (1lb) fresh lo mein noodles
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- whole salted peanuts for sprinkling, optional
For the Pickles
- Place the cucumbers, shallots, and peppers in a bowl. Add the dried peppers, star anise, salt, and sugar. Pour the vinegar over top and stir to combine. Cover and let sit at room temperature to pickle for at least 3 hours. (see note 2)
For the Noodles
- In a large resealable container, whisk to combine 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of the black vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the chili crisp, and 1 tablespoon of the honey. Place the bok choy in the container and seal. Shake to thoroughly coat the bok choy in the marinade before transferring the fridge. Let marinade for at least 3 hours or for up to 24.
- When the bok choy is finished marinating, transfer it to a plate and set it aside. Pour the remaining marinade into a bowl and add the rest of the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and chili crisp. Add the tahini and water and whisk to combine. Transfer the dressing to the fridge until you're ready to serve.
- When you're ready to serve, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook them according to the package's directions. Drain the noodles and rinse them under cold water.
- Place the noodles in a large bowl and pour the dressing over top. Add the sesame seeds and toss to coat. Chill the noodles while you prepare the bok choy.
- Heat a grill or a cast-iron griddle until smoking. Add the bok choy cut-side-down and grilled until charred. No need to flip. Transfer the the bok choy to a plate and set it aside.
- Divide the noodles across four bowls and top with two piece of bok choy each. Finish with the pickled cucumbers and peanuts, if desired. Serve immediately.