San Francisco-Style Vietnamese American Garlic Noodles Recipe (2024)



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Ian from Salt Spring Island, BC Canada

I’ve been using my meat tenderizing mallet for smashing garlic lately. Turns it into a creamy paste. Does a great job and I’ll use it with this recipe.


I keep a large bulb of garlic, roots intact, in a small vase (one that held a hyacinth bulb purchased at Aldi works well). Use the tall green shoots from the garlic instead of scallions to add flavor and greenery to any number of dishes. The roots that grow swirl in a lovely pattern in the bottom of the vase, and the bulb will continue to produce shoots for weeks.


As a Vietnamese immigrant whose parents owned a restaurant for decades in Denver, I would like to add another essential condiment/sauce in the canon of Vietnamese cooking called Maggi. My family makes this dish using Maggi and not fish sauce. Just thought I'd offer this up as another way to make these yummy noodles. Maggi, in its iconic curvaceous dark brown bottle, is not made of soy but wheat protein. You will often that tangy saltiness in Vietnamese sandwiches.


YiaYia, a mortar and pestle crushes the garlic, releasing its flavors and oils, but a food processor just cuts it up finely, and the hard sides of the garlic are still intact, albeit smaller. But, little of the garlic’s flavor is released when it is simply cut into small pieces, so if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, it’s better to crush the garlic with the flat side of a heavy knife, and then mince it.


Have been cooking pasta in a skillet for years. Use approximately 3 cups of water per 12 oz of pasta in 12-inch skillet. Turn heat to high. Cook approximately 10 minutes, stirring frequently, adding more water towards end if needed as noodles absorb the water and soften. Add favorite sauce - or transfer as recommended in this recipe and toss till you are happy with the finish.

James F

Hamish, Folks have tested this plenty of times - there's basic science to it. Here's one article from a colleague of Kenji's: said, we cook for our homes, not a lab. Process the garlic any which way you want. The important thing is someone wanting to cook.

Jacques B

DO not buy crushed garlic in a jar. You can get away with whole peeled garlic in a crunch. Garlic is easy to use peel a few bulbs and leave it whole in your fridge and then you will have the pleasure of using garlic in your cereal in the morning.(just to see if anyone is reading)


Unusual for me, completely followed the recipe, no changes. I'll never cook pasta in a pot again.Added a fair amount of the pasta water, to the end product and tasted like we had a cream sauce. This is amazing, no leftovers ...and chop the garlic however you want!


1. On a well supported cutting board, smash garlic cloves with the flat side of a chef's knife - making sure to: hold the handle of the knife over the edge of the board; center the blade over the garlic (lest you send the clove flying across the kitchen); and give the side of the blade a nice hard whack.2. Gather smashed cloves into what will look almost like a pile of pulp, and mince away.Easy; fast; efficient - and a great way to channel aggression.


I have made this dish dozens of times over the last few years and it's always delicious. I do have a suggestion, however. The amount of sauce needs to be at least doubled from what is suggested above. Keep the butter and garlic on a very low flame so the garlic doesn't burn. Turn the heat off before adding the cheese.


I found a garlic "rocker" on Amazon while browsing kitchen utensils. I's a bent bar shape with small holes in the center. You press down and rock back and forth on a garlic clove and it pushes the garlic through the holes, releasing the most intense garlic flavor. It's much like a press, but without the messy clean up and frustration of getting all the garlic out of the press. It cleans up in about 15 seconds.I'll never mince garlic again!


I think there is also a little tangerine juice to counter the garlic, as in their sumptuous roast crabs...


Fresh is surely better, but those little jars of minced garlic really do make life easier.


There are lots of vegan fish sauces and oyster sauces available, and they taste great. I live in Northern Virginia, so I get them from H Mart, but you can also find online. The vegan oyster sauce I prefer is Kikkoman. ps I just checked the bottle and it says vegetarian, not vegan - but I don't see anything in the ingredient list that's non-vegan.


1- Trust and follow the pasta cooking method - but stir to unstick from pan 2- Use all the garlic even if it seems like too much 3- Add a bit more of each of the sauces, and more like 1/2 c. cheese I ended up not even needing to drain the pasta, end result was perfectly creamy/emulsified, not greasy in the slightest. I told my Roman-born husband it was like Vietnamese carbonara. We added lots of black pepper (like the crab dish has). Anyone tried it w/ bottarga instead of cheese?


I didn’t think I could find a place where too much garlic was a thing. I adore garlic. Apparently, 20 cloves is my limit. This was tasty but very one note, and if I ever make this again, I would use less garlic.

Suzie Taleff

I really enjoyed this recipe but there certainly wasn’t much sauce. I stirred with tongs and a spatula to mix everything but finally added some more of the cooking water to increase the liquid. Was your result really creamy and saucy? The picture doesn’t look saucy and mine didn’t either. I liked the review where he suggested using more of the soy sauce, etc.Delicious flavor. We had it with halibut cheeks and fresh asparagus. Gourmet for sure!!!

Md foodie

This was delicious. We followed the recipe but used bucatini with broccoli on the side. Wonderful!


my father been doing similar for decades, just add canned clams.

Sandie Robinson

Very good dish. I would make more sauce next time as has been suggested. I added shrimp and roasted broccoli at the end. I used whole grain spaghetti. The recipe is a keeper.

Mike Feeney

I chopped up about 10 medium-sized shrimp, lightly searing them. Here in France, we get our shrimp with shells and heads on. I boiled the shells and heads and strained them. I used that water along with enough tap water to cover the pasta. The pasta used took quite a while to get to just not quite al dente so I had to add boiling water to get to that stage. It was a wonderful meal. The copious amounts of garlic did not overwhelm and the cheese while not tasted, added to the texture nicely.

Lezlie Christian

Pasta cooks very well in less water. Use less salt because the pasta absorbs most of the water. I agree, don't skimp on the garlic. Crush it roughly in a mortar with pestle. I added some cooked chicken as a protein, so used chicken broth as well as half and half, and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Delicious!


We’re a garlic-lovin’ family, so I thought this would be a slam dunk, but we all found it bitter and overwhelmingly garlicky. It was just…unpleasant. I wouldn’t make it again, and that’s saying something, considering how much I love garlic.

Cherie Childs

Follow the recipe. Deelish!

Mike Feeney

Added lightly seared diced shrimp to the mix. Here in France we get our shrimp with shells and heads in. I pealed them and boiled them and used the water to boil the pasta. What a wonderful meal. Never made anything like it before. While prepping my wife came into the kitchen and looked at the 20 cloves of garlic. She was skeptical but by the end there wasn’t a morsel of garlic left in her plate.


Fabulous. I’d double everything but the butter and pasta. Add course ground black pepper at end. Add pasta water to keep from drying I put a tbsp of light miso in sauce before the pasta.


Loved this and can be developed! But, get a food processor if you hate mincing. You won’t go back. Secondly, ground pepper at end and twice as many scallions! Different brands of pastas will lend different flavors. I’d double everything but the butter. Had almost no extra water and I needed what I had.

rich stokes

I added about a tsp of hoisin to the other liquids. Did the garlic in a zester I found the taste mild but delicious. Added peas about half a cup. Not too salty and nice umami. Would do over .


I used a food processor to mince the garlic before I read the comments. Now I'm going to lie awake all night and berate myself for not using a mortar and pestle. WHAT A WORTHLESS FOOL I AM.


I found this recipe to taste pretty salty. I plan to skip the fish sauce if I venture to make it again. I would describe the fish sauce as an acquired taste that I'm not motivated to acquire.

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San Francisco-Style Vietnamese American Garlic Noodles Recipe (2024)
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