Sa cha noodles

Sa cha noodles

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

Here’s a surprise from Fujian: a noodle dish with a sauce not too far removed from Malaysian satay! Stroll down Xiamen’s Zhongshan Road, with its myriad dining options, and you’ll see locals eating these ‘sand tea’ noodles from paper takeaway cartons, slurping up the distinctive spicy, peanutty sauce. You can choose from a number of meaty inclusions — chicken, liver, seafood and the like. We like seafood the best in ours. For optimal results, make the sa cha sauce from scratch, rather than buying the ready-made version.


Quantity Ingredient
500g small squid
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
310ml Sa cha sauce
1 litre Chicken stock
800g fresh, wide rice noodles
500g raw king prawns, peeled, leaving tails intact, and cleaned
250g fried tofu puffs, sliced
180g mung bean sprouts
3 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
1 small handful coriander leaves


  1. To clean the squid, gently pull the tentacles away from the tube (the intestines should come away at the same time). Remove the intestines from the tentacles by cutting under the eyes, then remove the beak if it remains in the centre of the tentacles by using your fingers to push up the centre. Reserve the tentacles. Pull the transparent cartilage from inside the body and remove. Clean out the inside of the tube. Hold the tube under running water and peel the skin off; the wings can also be used. Place the cleaned squid tubes on a chopping board and cut the tube into thin rings.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the sa cha sauce and cook, stirring, for 1–2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the stock and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly to combine the sauce and stock. Cover the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place the rice noodles in a large heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water.
  3. While the noodles are soaking, add the prawns, tofu, squid rings and tentacles to the simmering stock in the pan and cook for 3 minutes, or until the seafood is just cooked through. Add the bean sprouts.
  4. Drain the noodles and divide among four large bowls. Divide the seafood mixture among the bowls, scatter over the spring onions and coriander and serve immediately.
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