Sichuan burning noodles tossed with spiced pork, warm chili crisp, and crushed roasted peanuts and sesame seeds is out of this world delicious ~ (but not hot and spicy!)
Burning noodles (Yibin ranmian)
That’s right, despite the name, these noodles aren’t super hot and spicy, just amazingly delicious! Burning noodles have been made for centuries in Yibin, Sichuan Province, China. Legend has it that the dish originated with street vendors who would cook their noodles with common ingredients like chili oil and peanuts, creating an easy portable meal for laborers working along the Yangtze river.
This rich and full bodied Sichuan noodle dish is similar to another one of my favorite Sichuan Chinese noodle dishes of all time, Dan Dan Noodles (I love that recipe so much I created a veganized version, too!)
Why are they called burning noodles?
The name burning noodles doesn’t refer to the dish being hot and spicy, in fact these noodles have a rather mild heat level. Burning refers to the fact that these noodles aren’t ‘soup’ noodles: they’re served Yibin style, or “dry”, in a sauce, not a broth. The noodles absorb the chili oil so theoretically you could actually ignite a noodle with a flame! A lot more interesting than that packet of ramen you’ve got stashed in the pantry, huh?
This yummy recipe is my take on Sichuan Chinese burning noodles. It’s not 100% authentic but it’s close. I’ll try to clue you in to any missing or subbed items in case you want to try an even more authentic version down the road.
- I’ve subbed my favorite Sichuan chili crisp oil for Yibin fragrant chili oil. Both are Sichuan chili oils, but Yibin oil (which contains lard and walnuts) is very difficult to find here in the US. Chili crisp, on the other hand, has a cult following here and it’s perfect in this dish.
- I’ve omitted the yacai, which is Sichuan pickled and fermented mustard green. I can’t get it locally but you can find it in Chinese markets or online, here. It’s a fairly unique ingredient, but you could substitute chopped kimchi if you like.
- I’ve added minced pork which is an authentic ingredient, but not essential. Originally these street food noodles were vegetarian, relying on the peanuts for protein.
- I use dry ramen noodles instead of the fresh alkaline noodles you’d get in China.
Burning noodles ingredients
- ground pork
- sesame oil
- dark soy sauce
- I often use Tamari soy sauce but for this dish I like to use dark soy sauce, it’s darker and richer than regular soy sauce . Look for it in the Asian section of your supermarket, or find it here.
- Fly by Jing chili crisp
- this is a Sichuan style chili oil that comes in a jar, find it here. Fly by Jing is the brand I use and it has amazing flavor without being very hot!
- fresh garlic
- fresh ginger
- I buy raw and roast them.
- toasted sesame seed
- find toasted sesame seeds in your spice aisle, and also in the Asian section of your supermarket.
toasting the peanuts
- I start with raw peanuts, but they must be roasted before using. About 20 minutes at 350F renders them fragrant and golden brown.
- I wrap them in a clean kitchen towel to give them a vigorous massage to remove the skins. (It’s fine if some of the skins remain, no worries.)
- Next I grind them, along with toasted sesame seeds, to a coarse meal.
- This will make you fall in love with peanuts all over again!
I like Hakubaku brand, it’s readily available here in the US and the noodles are authentic. This type of noodle cooks quickly, in 4 minutes, and keeps well without getting sticky or soggy. They have a nice firm texture. I find that these ramen noodles work well in so many different types of Asian noodle dishes so they’re a good choice if you’re ever confused about which type to buy. I stock them in my pantry so I can make dishes like this whenever I get the urge. In fact if you’ve got ramen noodles, a jar of chili crisp, and eggs in the fridge you’ve got the makings of a great meal!
what is chili crisp
Chili crisp is a modern Sichuan chili sauce that offers a fresh, innovative take on spicy condiments in Sichuan cuisine. It’s one of my favorite new finds. It’s super complex, but not super spicy, and a few tablespoons over plain noodles makes a fantastic meal. I highly recommend picking up a jar to try. (They now have a spicy version, too, so if you’re looking for mild heat, be sure to read the label carefully.)
For a vegan burning noodles leave out the pork.
For a heartier vegan version you can substitute extra firm tofu for the pork. Mince it or cube it before stir frying. See my Vegan Dan Dan Noodles for inspiration.
Substitute ground chicken or beef for pork.
Grind roasted walnuts in place of the peanuts and sesame.
Use cilantro instead of or in addition to scallions.
Add a fried or soft boiled egg.
Add blanched or stir fried bok choy, Napa cabbage, or baby spinach for a healthy punch of green.
what about the leftovers?
To reheat leftover burning noodles I think the microwave is the best method. Microwave on high briefly, just enough to take the chill off the noodles. You might want to refresh them by tossing with a bit more chili crisp, and fresh toppings.
Burning noodles is a standalone dish. That means it’s a complete meal and does not need any other side dish to go along with it. The noodles, pork, chili oil, peanuts, sesame seeds, and other toppings provide plenty of flavor and substance.
If I add anything to the meal I would probably consider a simple Asian style salad to cut the richness of the noodles
- Edamame Salad
- Asian Slaw
- Crunchy Chinese Coleslaw
- Japanese Cucumber Salad (Sunomono)
- Ramen Salad
- Spring Vegetable Salad with Miso Dressing
- Snap Pea Salad
For a fuller menu you might add
- Wok or large stainless steel frying pan
- 1/2 cup raw peanuts, roasted, see roasting instructions below*
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
- 1/2 lb ground or minced pork
- 2-3 Tbsp toasted sesame oil, divided
- 2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger (or to taste)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp dark soy sauce. You can also use Tamari soy sauce but dark soy sauce gives the meat an extra rich flavor and deep color.
- 4-5 Tbsp Chili Crisp, you can add more if you like, find Fly by Jing Chili Crisp here.
- 9.5 ounce package of dry ramen noodles, look for straight noodles, not the curly ones.
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, green and white parts.
- a drizzle of chili crisp
- Put the cooled roasted peanuts and the toasted sesame seeds in a small food processor and grind to a rough crumble texture. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoons of the toasted sesame oil to a wok or large pan and brown the ground pork. Break it up into small crumbles as it cooks, until there is no pink left. If the pork releases excessive liquid or fat I like to drain most of it off, and then add the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, chili crisp, and remaining sesame oil. Stir fry for a couple of minutes until some of the liquid has evaporated and the meat is nicely caramelized.
- Cook the noodles in boiling water according to the package instructions. Mine take 4 minutes. Drain well and add to the pan with the meat sauce and about half of the nut crumble mixture ~ toss well.
- Serve in bowls topped with the scallions, more of the nut crumble, and a drizzle of chili crisp, if you like.
- Preheat your oven to 350F and lay out the peanuts on a baking sheet.
- Roast for 20-25 minutes until fragrant and lightly browned. Give them a stir once or twice during roasting.
- Let cool.