Slippery noodles in a tangy soup, hot and sour glass noodle soup is irresistible but easy to prepare. A classic Sichuan dish you ought to try.
There are a few dishes which always make me drool (even the thought of them). Chinese hot and sour glass noodle soup (酸辣粉) is definitely at the top of the list. Tangy and pungent, it’s a classic Sichuan street food which has gained popularity in every corner of China and has made its way to some high-end restaurants. If you love big flavours, today’s recipe won’t disappoint.
It’s super tangy but irresistible
I fell in love with hot and sour glass noodle soup as a teenager when I had to buy my lunch outside school. Sichuan street food just “invaded” the city I was living in at that time. A food stall selling local delicacies near my school put hot and sour glass noodle soup on its menu.
The first time I ventured to try this dish, I finished it in tears. It was like a spice explosion in my mouth, super hot, tangy but irresistible. Since then, every time I eat out, either in a small cafe or in a fancy restaurant, I always order this dish if it’s available.
It’s quite simple to make
Even though I really love hot and sour glass noodle soup, I never thought of making it myself until I left China. Cooking this dish is much simpler than I had imagined. More importantly, all the ingredients are easily accessible (for me personally, it means in Switzerland and England). Once you get everything to hand, it’s just a matter of assembling them.
What are glass noodles?
Glass noodles (aka cellophane noodles, Chinese vermicelli) are a type of noodles made from starch and water. They come dry and stiff. Normally you need to soak them in water prior to cooking. Hot and sour glass noodle soup calls for sweet potato glass noodles in particular.
They are grey in colour and are of a similar size to spaghetti when cooked. I adore its texture: smooth, slippery and elastic. You can find them in most Chinese / Asian stores (they are popular in Korean cuisine too).
Three key ingredients for great taste
The use of Chinese chilli oil (homemade preferable) and black rice vinegar makes this dish “hot and sour”. They are essential and irreplaceable. Freshly ground Sichuan pepper is another key to great flavour. Shop bought Sichuan pepper powder is acceptable.
Fry soybeans as a topping
It’s definitely worth the effort to cook fried soybeans for topping. It will make your dish truly authentic. I often cook an extra amount, as fried soybeans are a delicious snack on their own (sprinkle some salt over if you wish).
Another note, I garnished my dish with chopped garlic sprouts, simply because I happened to have grown some at home (read my post Homegrown Garlic Sprouts). Please feel free to use spring onion as a substitute.
Hot and sour glass noodle soup (酸辣粉)
- 200 g sweet potato glass noodles, 7oz
For the fried soybeans
- 2 tbsp dried soy beans
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
For the soup
For the garnish
- 2 tbsp preserved Sichuan pickle (Zha Cai), chopped
- Coriander, chopped
- Garlic sprouts, chopped, or scallions
Fry the soy beans
- Soak the soybeans overnight. Drain and pat dry with a cloth or kitchen paper.
- Pour oil and soybeans into a cold wok (or a frying pan). Fry on a medium low heat until the beans are nicely browned.
- Drain the excess oil through a sieve. Set aside.
Cook the noodles
- Soak the noodles in warm water for about half an hour until pliable.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Put in drained noodles. Boil until they are cooked (see note 2).
- Rinse under tap water for a few seconds then drain.
Prepare the soup
- In two serving bowls, mix all the ingredients for the soup (except for the chicken stock).
- Bring the chicken stock to a boil then pour into two bowls.
Assemble the dish
- Place well drained noodles into the bowls. Top with fried soybeans and preserved Sichuan pickle. Garnish with coriander and garlic sprouts.
If you find this recipe appealing, don’t forget to check out “Dan dan noodles”, another star dish from Sichuan cuisine. Happy cooking!