Oil noodles are types of Asian-style noodles often included in traditional Cantonese dishes. These types of cooked noodles can be made from scratch according to traditional recipes, and they are also usually available in various specialty Asian markets. Original recipes for oil noodles can be traced to mainland China, though several variations on oil noodle dishes can be found in other countries, such as Taiwan and the Philippines. Basic ingredients for this type of Chinese noodle usually include egg whites, wheat flour, corn oil, and a preservative ingredient called sodium benzoate that allows an oil noodle batch to be stored for a long time without spoiling.
Making oil noodles from scratch entails a process similar to that for other kinds of Asian noodles. The initial pasta dough is made from a mixture of water, wheat flour, and salt to taste. Egg whites or whole eggs can be used as binding agents according to individual cooks' preferences or regional traditions. The main difference in recipes for these noodles is the addition of light oil along with the eggs to help hold the rest of the ingredients together and to give these noodles their unique flavor.
Corn oil is usually the most popular ingredient choice for oil noodles because it results in a pleasing taste and does not solidify in cold temperatures as easily as some other types of oil. Some Asian cooks who make their own noodles prefer palm or coconut oil as an alternative. Mass-produced oil noodles are often made with corn oil because this ingredient is generally the most cost effective.
Finished oil noodles can be included in a variety of dishes, such as soups and salads. Popular cold salad recipes with noodles are tossed with ingredients such as bokchoy, bean sprouts, cabbage, and soy sauce. These variations on salad also sometimes provide a handy dish to use up leftover slices of beef or chicken. Many appetizer soups in Chinese restaurants are also frequently made with oil noodles.
Pancit refers to these kinds of noodles used in Filipino dishes such as pancit estacion cooked with a type of smoked fish called tinapa. Some Filipino cooks like to substitute oil noodles for egg noodles in a popular dish known as pansit sinanta that is cooked with flavored broth and chicken. Lutong pancit is another oil noodle dish made with various chopped and sauteed seafood pieces such as shrimp, squid, and tinapa.