David Chang's Carbonara-Inspired Instant Noodles Are A World Of Flavor

Noodles are a blank slate that comes alive with just about any kind of sauce, be it a bolognese, a pesto, or Alfredo which we frequently add to fettuccine and penne. The ingredient can also be cooked up with soy sauce and a combination of meats, seafood, and vegetable to create a Chinese chow mein or Japanese yakisoba if you're in the mood for Asian. But just because we tend to use certain noodles a specific way, doesn't mean we can't use Western-style pasta sauces with Asian noodles and vice versa for our own signature East-West-inspired dish. And this is exactly what Momofuku group founder David Chang does with his unique, fusion-style carbonara.

To make his spicy carbonara, as demonstrated on "The Drew Barrymore Show," Chang first cooks up his own-branded instant noodles (more on this later). He then preps a mix of egg yolk and parmesan cheese, stirring them briskly so that they amalgamate. He then adds chili crisp to add temperature to the dish. To help things along, Chang uses the Italian cooking hack of mixing in a bit of pasta water in order to make an emulsion, then pours the cooked noodles into the dish. Meat in the form of pancetta or pork belly, which has been well cooked, is then added to the creamy, cheesy mix. The dish may be finished with more chili crisp and cheese to taste.

Chili carbonara is made with air-dried instant noodles

The Momofuku blog, which provides a recipe, might be specific about using its own-brand instant noodle to make this mouthwatering dish, but that doesn't mean you can't experiment by using an instant noodle brand of your choice. Before you do that, it is important to note that the branded instant noodle that Chang uses isn't quite the same as chicken-flavored ramen or cup noodles that we're used to cooking up on the fly because Chang's noodles are air-dried, instead of being deep-fried in palm oil, the way standard instant noodles are made.

While air-dried and deep-fried noodles are both considered "instant," they are slightly different ingredients. Air-dried noodles don't have the same fat content, and they can have a different shape and length than standard instant noodles. Also, like pasta, air-dried noodles don't have the taste or flavor which instant noodles can have, so air-dried noodles can be dressed up with a wider variety of sauces. 

Air-dried instant noodles can be found both in Asian stores like H Mart and online, and are marked on their packaging as such. Brands include A-sha, Shin Light, and Prima Taste La Mian.