Introduction: Sichuan Inspired Mouth Numbing Fire Butt Noodles
Some years ago while a student at Ohio State I found a great Chinese restaurant that served a spectacular dish called Sichuan Boiled Beef. The dish was incredibly fragrant, extremely spicy, and - most interesting of all - it made your mouth numb! The color of the broth was a deep red I'd never seen before and the meat melted in my mouth. I recommend you find a Chinese restaurant in your neighborhood so you can taste this unparalleled flavor; you won't regret it my dear chiliheads. And, of course, you can find recipes all over the internet so you can prepare it yourself.
In any event, I recently bought the ingredients to prepare Sichuan Boiled Beef and then had some left over stuff after-the-fact. This dish is what I prepared with the extras.
- Red ( not green ) sichuan peppercorns
- Doubanjiang broad bean paste
- Garlic powder
- Hot chili oil
- Chicken stock powder
- Rice noodles
- A chicken thigh
- Vegetable oil
- Green onions
Step 1: Prepare Ingredients
This dish cooks fast, and it's pretty easy to get everything prepped.
- Slice the chicken into one inch cubes
- Slice 5 thin ginger slices
- Pulverize the peppercorns. They are a pain to eat when whole, I would recommend using a mortar and pestle to grind them, but all I have is a cheap blender so I gave them the business in that way.
- Slice the cabbage into thin long slices
- Get your water boiling and cook your noodles of choice
- Put about 2 tablespoons of the doubanjiang paste on your cutting board and slice it up with a knife. There are large pieces of broad bean in the paste that you'll want to cut as small as possible. You could use a food processor or the like, but I don't have one so I just sliced it up with a knife for a minute or so until it looked like a uniform consistency paste.
Step 2: Wok and Roll
Get some oil in your wok. I used 1/3 cup of vegetable oil. Most of the authentic recipes call for rapeseed oil, but you may have a hard time finding that. I just used what I had on hand.
In the wok add a big tablespoon of chili oil, the sliced ginger, the doubanjiang and your peppercorns. Stir this mixture around for a minute or two at high heat. Your house will be quite fragrant by now, the mixture will be a bright red, and your mouth ought to be watering.
Now we'll get the main ingredients cooking.
Step 3: Chicken and Veggies
At this point I add the chicken and stir fry it a bit in the spicy
mixture. The chicken is small so it will be cooked through and slightly brown in just a couple of minutes.
After a couple of minutes cooking the chicken, I add in the cabbage and stir fry it until it starts to wilt slightly ( another minute or two ).
Then I add about a half teaspoon of chicken stock powder and a mug and a half of water to make a broth. Also add a bit of garlic powder to taste. I stir the mixture and leave it to cook for just another minute or so until the cabbage gets to the texture I like.
Step 4: Serving
I served this over rice noodles because they are cheap, delicious, and cook in a flash. I scooped the meat and vegetables onto the noodles, then carefully poured the broth from the wok on top.
Garnish with some fresh green onions if you have them. This gives a nice contrasting color to the reddish brown of the broth and tastes fantastic.
Enjoy your mouth-numbing, supremely-spicy, Sichuan Inspired Fire Butt Noodles!
Step 5: Additional Notes
There are many brands of doubanjiang paste. I usually buy one in a red packet that comes highly rated on Amazon, but this one in the clear packet was what they had at the local shop. The fragrance was a bit less pungent than the one in the red packet, but the flavor was equally delicious. They sell it in both spicy and not-spicy variants, make sure to get the spicy one since these are fire butt noodles.
You could make your own chili oil with some fresh or dried red chilis. I got this canned one for convenience and because it has peanuts in it which is a nice touch.
My measurements for this recipe are just guesses at what would taste good. We can all experiment with proportions of different spices to dial things in to our liking.
I specified that you need red sichuan peppercorns and not green ones. I read a while back that you should use the red ones and not the green ones for this type of cooking. Since I don't want to misspeak, finding out why you want the red ones and not the green ones is left as an exercise for the reader.
The spice of chili oil and the broad bean paste give the standard capsaicin burning feeling. The real stand out here, in my opinion, is the numbing feeling from the sichuan peppercorn. If you've never experienced it you absolutely must. Importing these peppercorns into the USA was illegal until 2005 for an innocent reason ( not because they're poisonous ) and that's likely why we've all been missing out on the great flavor for so long in this part of the world.
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