For people within the Taiwanese diaspora in the United States, the scent of Thai basil is a reminder of the pungent and spicy basil you’ll find everywhere in Taiwan. The Taiwanese variety is quite hard to find in the States, but the more readily available Thai basil, which you can find at Asian supermarkets, is a good substitute. You can make these noodles with sweet basil if you can’t find Thai, but it will lack the same punch of grassy, spicy flavor.
Quick-frying the basil-garlic purée with rice wine brings out the fragrance of the herb and mellows the sharpest notes of raw garlic without completely muting them. The result is a savory, aromatic, licorice-scented green sauce that clings perfectly to wide noodles.
This topping combination is inspired by the traditional noodle stands you see everywhere in Taiwan. With crunchy fried garlic or shallots, mung bean sprouts, garlic chives, and an egg on top, this is a complete meal in a bowl that’s easy to execute on weeknights.
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large eggs (optional)
head of garlic, peeled
cups Thai basil
cup vegetable oil, divided
cup michiu tou or other rice wine
tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
garlic chives, cut into ½” pieces
cups mung bean sprouts
servings dried wide sliced noodles (such as Hsin Tung Yang; about 8 oz.)
Store-bought fried garlic and chili crisp (for serving)