Sichuan Mouth-Numbing Cold Noodles

Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time
    4 hours 15 minutes
  • Cook time
    10 minutes
  • Serves
Author Notes

My grandma is from the Sichuan (Szechuan) province in China, and because of that, I’ve always claimed that spicy food is as normal to me as bread. Of course, when I’ve got tears streaming down my face and am chugging ice-cold water by the gallon, it’s less believable. However, I actually really enjoy that feeling. What marks the signature of the Sichuan spicy is the 麻辣 part — the mouth numbing part. It’s really hard for me to find dishes that are spicy and numbing enough in restaurants, so I make my own Sichuan chili oil.

This is one of my favorite dishes for the summertime. Yes, my face will most likely turn red, and yes, I will probably take breaks because my mouth will be numb, but it’s cold, it’s yummy, and it satisfies my spicy cravings. The main ingredient is the chili oil, which you can make at home. There are so many variations of chili oil, but my favorite is a triple-garlic Sichuan oil with peppers, chili flakes, garlic, ginger, and star anise. There’s half a head of garlic to infuse, minced toasted garlic, and fresh minced garlic. I’ve seen variations with cumin, cloves, fennel, and cinnamon sticks — it’s really up to you! You can find all of these ingredients at your local Asian grocery market. —Betty

Test Kitchen Notes

These noodles were everything I hoped they would be. The triple garlic Sichuan chili oil was fantastic!!! Spicy and flavorful and simple to make! I absolutely loved it! I’m so happy to have a nice amount leftover – my brain is spinning on all the great things I can do with it! The only minor critique with the recipe is it lists dried chiles in the ingredients, but doesn’t specify how to use them. I assumed to keep them whole and add in with ginger etc and take them out before jarring. The triple garlic chili oil is really what makes this dish so special. The sauce for the noodles worked very well too. The tahini, peanut butter and vinegar were flavored nicely with the garlic chili oil. I couldn’t find Chinese black vinegar, but I read that a good substitution is balsamic vinegar diluted with a bit of water which is what I did. I felt like the noodles needed more sauce than what the recipe specified. After I mixed the sauce with the noodles I made some more sauce and added it in. The end result was great, however, next time I make this I would prefer to use Soba noodles. The ramen noodles get a little clumpy, I think soba would actually work better. It still tasted great and the noodles were a minor issue, it was excellent as is. —audrey kasindorf

  • Test Kitchen-Approved
  • For the triple-garlic Sichuan chili oil:

  • 6

    cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2

    head garlic, or about 4 to 5 whole cloves

  • 1

    1-inch nub of fresh ginger

  • 4 tablespoons

    chili flakes

  • 5

    dried red chilies

  • 1

    star anise

  • 1 cup

    vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons

    red Sichuan peppercorns, finely ground

  • 1 tablespoon

    soy sauce

  • For the Sichuan cold noodles:

  • 2 packets

    dry ramen noodles

  • 1 tablespoon

    sesame oil

  • 3 tablespoons

    triple-garlic Sichuan chili oil (above)

  • 2 tablespoons

    Chinese black vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon

    light soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon


  • 1 teaspoon


  • 1 teaspoon

    peanut butter

  • 1 tablespoon

    vegetable oil

  • 2

    eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

  • 1 handful

    Thinly sliced cucumber, for garnish

  • 1 handful

    Chopped scallions, for garnish

  1. For the triple-garlic Sichuan chili oil:
  2. In a saucepan, heat up 4 cloves of minced garlic, the half head of garlic, ginger, chili flakes, dried red chilies, star anise, and vegetable oil over medium heat, until sizzling. Stir to prevent burning and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, watching the garlic to make sure it doesn’t burn. The garlic should be lightly browned.
  3. Turn off heat and add the ground red Sichuan peppercorns and 1 more tablespoon of chili flakes. Stir until the oil stops sizzling.
  4. Add the soy sauce and the remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic, and transfer a jar. Let it sit for 3 to 4 hours. Then, put the jar in the fridge. Remove star anise, ginger, and whole garlic cloves from the jar.
  1. For the Sichuan cold noodles:
  2. Cook noodles according to directions until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, and toss with the sesame oil. Place in the fridge until ready.
  3. To make the sauce, in a small bowl, whisk the chili oil, black vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, water, tahini, and peanut butter together. Taste-test this sauce beforehand to see if you can handle the amount of heat! Adjust as necessary.
  4. Heat up a large skillet with the vegetable oil. Spread a thin layer of eggs across surface, swirling to reach the entire surface. Cook on low heat until cooked through. Cool. Cut into thin strips.
  5. Mix noodles with the sauce until well-combined, and garnish with cucumbers, egg strips, and scallions. Serve cold or at room temperature.

betty is a food blogger and wedding photographer based in Boston, MA.

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