Ginger Scallion Sauce Recipe for the Much-Copied Momofuku Homage. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Ginger Scallion Sauce Recipe for Ginger Scallion Noodles, A Momofuku Take on a Chinese Classic

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This ginger scallion sauce recipe for ginger scallion noodles makes the much-copied Momofuku homage to the classic Southern Chinese sauce that chef David Chang and food writer Francis Lam popularised outside China over a decade ago. I’ve been making these delicious ginger scallion noodles with the sauce ever since, well before their recent comeback. You should too.

Before we knew it as the Momofuku ginger scallion sauce for ginger scallion noodles from chef David Chang’s Momofuku: A Cookbook published back in October 2009, Chang said it was “the secret sauce” served up in Cantonese joints all over New York City. You know the kind of restaurants, as they’re endearingly the same in every Chinatown around the world.

Brightly lit, with an illuminated sign out front, and glossy roast ducks and char siu pork hanging in the window to get you salivating. Faded newspaper reviews taped to the glass window at the entrance, and a laminated English language picture menu, with only a third of the dishes from the menu that Cantonese speakers get.

Whether you know it as your neighbourhood Chinese restaurant’s ‘secret sauce’ traditionally served with poached chicken, the Momofuku ginger scallion sauce for ginger scallion noodles that every Asian food lover was cooking back in 2010, or the classic Southern Chinese sauce found everywhere from Fujian to Hong Kong, it made a comeback in 2021, and it’s popularity seems only to be increasing.

But before I tell you more about this ginger scallion sauce for ginger scallion noodles recipe, we have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-supported. If you’ve enjoyed our recipes, please join our other readers and consider supporting Grantourismo by using our links to book accommodation, hire a car, purchase travel insurance, or book a tour on Get Your Guide.

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Now let me tell you about this ginger scallion sauce recipe for ginger scallion noodles.

Ginger Scallion Sauce Recipe for the Much-Copied Momofuku Homage to a Classic Cantonese Condiment

Back in 2010, not long after David Chang got us all making ginger scallion noodles, American food writer and cookbook editor Francis Lam published a ginger scallion sauce recipe, which he said was originally served to accompany a simple dish of poached chicken. At the Great New York Noodletown you ordered a serving of ginger scallion noodles and a plate of BBQ duck or pork to mix in with it.

Lam wrote fondly about how his mother gave him containers of the homemade ginger scallion sauce when he was in college. You can imagine how handy this would have been for a money- and time-poor university student surviving on instant ramen noodles. Lam makes it pretty clear that his recipe came from good old mum and their Cantonese culinary heritage.

Chef David Chang, founder of the Momofuku restaurants in New York, being the unfiltered guy that he is, stated in his first cookbook that “Our ginger scallion noodles are an homage to/out-and-out rip-off of one of the greatest dishes in New York City: the $4.95 plate of ginger scallion noodles at Great New York Noodletown down on the Bowery in Chinatown.”

Chang goes on to explain just how versatile the sauce is: “Ginger scallion sauce is one of the greatest sauces or condiments ever. Ever. It’s definitely a mother sauce at Momofuku, something that we use over and over and over again…”

“If you have ginger scallion sauce in the fridge, you will never go hungry,” Chang writes. “Stir 6 tablespoons into a bowl of hot noodles – lo mein, rice noodles, Shanghai thick noodles – and you’re in business. Or serve over a bowl of rice topped with a fried egg. Or with grilled meat or any kind of seafood. Or almost anything.”

We remember eating at Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar in the East Village in the summer of 2010. Plates of ginger scallion noodles were flying off the pass to feed hungry diners yelling out to each other over the ear-bleed volume of AC/DC, as they drank good wine out of grandma’s glass tumblers. But that was part of his whole vibe.

Chang’s Momofuku cookbook roll-out, like most cookbook media campaigns, featured selected recipes from the book that were distributed to media around the world to republish. That’s how I came upon the ginger scallion sauce recipe when the cookbook was published in October 2009.

I made a big batch of the ginger scallion sauce for the family at Lara’s uncle’s home in Bendigo in Australia, and I tossed it through fresh egg noodles and fantastic fresh Australian prawns and thought it was a blast. Everybody loved the dish, so I made another version with fresh salmon that I pan-fried like this so that the skin was crispy.

Nine months later in Bali, halfway through the 2010 yearlong grand tour of the world that launched Grantourismo, I was teaching the Balinese chef at the holiday rental we’d settled into, how to make the sauce and noodles, as part of a cultural cooking exchange. She in turn taught me several Balinese dishes.

I wrote about the experience, naturally crediting the ginger scallion noodles recipe to David Chang as it was his recipe I’d based my dishes on. Unbeknownst to many non-Chinese food writers and home cooks at the time who weren’t yet aware of the Southern Chinese and Cantonese provenance of ginger scallion sauce, Chang’s recipe was borrowed as well.

Fast forward to 2021 and without regard or respect for either Francis Lam’s or David Chang’s recipes – and just to set them apart: Lam’s ginger and scallions are immersed in sizzling oil, while Chang’s are gently coated and combined with oil – ginger scallion sauce recipes with little or no changes from those recipes have been popping up everywhere without a mention let alone any attribution.

While ginger scallion sauce is ubiquitous in Cantonese cooking, it’s quite clear that many of the food writers and food bloggers hadn’t all been to a Chinese neighbourhood restaurant, let alone Southern China or Hong Kong, and collectively thought “Wow, this is a great sauce!” Google search trends testify that a lot of cooks were Googling ‘Momofuku ginger scallion noodles’ in 2021.

I don’t know about you, but we think it’s disingenuous and disrespectful to publish a recipe without acknowledging the source of inspiration and noting its cultural roots, regardless of what you’ve added to the dish to make it your own.

After the controversy last year over Alison Roman’s appropriation of a curry recipe that she called a ‘spiced chickpea stew with coconut and turmeric’ that became so famous it was simply known online as #TheStew, you’d think food writers would know better.

Following the uproar over Roman’s lack of acknowledgement of the recipe’s origin, her contract with the New York Times was cancelled and her ‘original’ recipe edited to indicate that it “evokes stews found in South India and parts of the Caribbean”.

While I’ve seen public comments on a certain food magazine website about the lifting of one ginger scallion sauce recipe without attribution, Lara tells me that the subject has been much discussed on food writing forums. Let’s hope some of these recipes get an edit and writers start to respect the source of the dishes that are making them a living.

Tips to Making this Ginger Scallion Sauce and Ginger Scallion Noodles

Only a couple of tips to making this ginger scallion sauce as it’s super easy and it can go in a lot of directions once the sauce is made. We typically make ginger scallion noodles by dousing the sauce over the noodles and combining it with plump sweet shrimps, making it one of our best shrimp recipes.

Just because this is a condiment, doesn’t mean you can’t add more condiments. Lara likes to add a little fish sauce to her noodles and sprinkle on some chilli flakes, crispy fried garlic and crunchy fried shallots for more kick and texture. I like to add a good squirt of hoisin sauce.

While we mostly served our ginger scallion noodles with plump fresh prawns, when we made the ginger scallion noodles in Bali and Australia all those years ago we placed a fillet of grilled salmon on top of each bowl of noodles.

Fillets of marinated chicken or perfectly poached chicken would also work, as the sauce was thought to have originally been created for poached chicken.

And as David Chang suggests, you can serve the ginger scallion sauce “over a bowl of rice topped with a fried egg. Or with grilled meat or any kind of seafood. Or almost anything.”

Ginger Scallion Sauce Recipe for Ginger Scallion Noodles

Ginger Scallion Sauce Recipe for the Much-Copied Momofuku Homage. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Ginger Scallion Sauce Recipe

This ginger scallion sauce recipe makes the much-copied Momofuku homage to a New York restaurant's take on the Chinese classic. Currently making a comeback, chef David Chang and food writer Francis Lam popularised ginger scallion sauce and ginger scallion noodles over a decade ago. I've been making these ever since with tweaks. Try this and you'll understand why. They're addictive.
Original recipe by David Chang (Momofuku).
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine Chinese
Servings made with recipe1 Cup
Calories 584 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 
 

  • 150 g scallions - white and green parts mixed
  • 60 g fresh ginger - finely chopped or minced
  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil - or any neutral oil
  • 1 ½ tsp Light Soy Sauce
  • ¾ tsp Sherry Vinegar
  • ¾ tsp salt

Instructions
 

  • Mix together the scallions, ginger, oil, soy, vinegar, and salt in a bowl.
  • Taste and check for seasoning, adding more if needed.
  • Though it’s best after 15 or 20 minutes of sitting, ginger scallion sauce is good from the minute it’s stirred together up to a day or two in the fridge.
  • Add to noodles and add your protein of choice, we like this with seafood, pork or duck.
  • Add your favourite condiments.

Nutrition

Calories: 584kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 5gFat: 55gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 38gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gSodium: 2279mgPotassium: 684mgFiber: 5gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 1496IUVitamin C: 31mgCalcium: 121mgIron: 3mg

Published 23 April 2021; Republished 25 May 2023

Please do let us know if you make this ginger scallion sauce recipe for ginger scallion noodles in the comments below. We’d love to hear how it turns out for you.

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Terence Carter is an editorial food and travel photographer and infrequent travel writer with a love of photographing people, places and plates of food. After living in the Middle East for a dozen years, he settled in South-East Asia a dozen years ago with his wife, travel and food writer and sometime magazine editor Lara Dunston.

2 thoughts on “Ginger Scallion Sauce Recipe for Ginger Scallion Noodles, A Momofuku Take on a Chinese Classic”

  1. I absolutely loved making this. It’s so easy and the smell of the ginger and spring onion was amazing. I served it over noodles and broccoli with lashings of fish sauce (two nights running!)5 stars

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