Gochujang Salsa Macha Rice Noodles

This recipe came about because I wanted to take the salsa macha noodles I made a while ago, but turn them 100% gluten-free and vegan. When I was fasting prior to my Hawaii trip, I had a lot of cravings. and these punchy, spicy, chewy noodles were one of them. Salsa macha is like the Mexican cousin of chili oil. It is chilies, oil, garlic, onion, a little bit of oregano, and usually some kind of nut or sesame seed. Avocado leaf is added too for an anise-like flavor profile! In my case, I also added gochujang, which is a Korean fermented chili paste, just to add an even bigger umami-punch to the sauce. For this kind of salsa, it made sense to go with something that really soaked it up, and I also wanted something with a chewier mouthfeel, compared to my usual flour-based noodles, so I went with rice noodles, specifically Vietnamese-styled bun tuoi. What’s cool about these noodles is that you take a half-cooked rice flour/tapioca-based dough, and push them through a potato ricer into boiling hot water to form them. So no pasta roller at all! Typically, regular rice flour is used, but I tried using glutinous rice flour(mochiko), and still managed to get an extrudable noodle(try saying that phrase five times fast), so using whichever depends entirely on whichever kind of rice flour is more convenient for you!

A few things to note about this recipe. The salsa macha needs to be monitored closely. If you heat up the oil too much, you risk burning everything, and depending on what stage of the recipe you were at, that could be a lot of ingredients down the drain. So take your time, and go slowly if you have never made it before. With the noodles, oh boy. I had to remake them a total of three times(so four actual attempts) to get them right. Always remember to use the ingredients I listed. If your water is not boiling hot, which happened to me in attempt 1, the dough will just remain flabby and like a Newtonian fluid(think the weird substances you find in stress balls), making it near impossible to properly extrude them. If you omit the xanthan gum, which is what I did in attempt #2 out of curiosity, the noodles will obliterate, and you’ll be left with tapioca congee. In attempting #3, I was washing the dishes(of all of the extremely tacky and sticky rice noodle dough), and accidentally overcooked my noodles. Make sure you take those noodles out once they float, and make sure you dunk them into cold water, as these noodles can overcook very easily. If you do all of those things correctly, you will end up with delicious, chewy, slurp-able rice noodles drowning in this hot and sour chili oil-like sauce.

For the gochujang salsa macha:
1 dried ancho chili
1 dried guajillo chili
1 avocado leaf*
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tbsp black sesame seeds
1 tsp oregano
a pinch of salt
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 heaping tbsp gojuchang

Remove the stems from the chilies, and reserve the seeds. Toast the husks of the chilies and the avocado leaf off in a nonstick pan for 20 seconds, then either finely chop them or grind them down into finer flakes. Toast off the chili seeds in the canola oil over low heat, then add in the garlic and sesame seeds. Once the garlic is browned, add in the chili flakes, oregano, salt, rice wine vinegar, and gochujang. Mix until combined, off heat.

For the rice noodles:
1/3 cup boiling hot water
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup mochiko/rice flour
a pinch of salt, plus more for the water
water to boil

Get a pot of boiling water going, and season the water generously with salt. In a bowl, mix the tapioca starch and mochiko with water, xanthan gum, and salt. Stir everything together until a smooth paste forms. Using a wetted potato ricer outfitted with the thin round hole-setting, extrude about half of the batter at a time into the water, letting the noodles float to the surface – this should take 1 minute. Once the noodles do so, transfer them into a bowl with ice water, just to keep them firm and bouncy. Repeat with the remainder of your batter. Toss in the salsa macha to finish.

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