Huang Fei Hong Spicy Cold Peanut Noodles

November 17, 2019
Photo by Mandy lee
Author Notes

Think Pringles . . . Doritos . . . the most iconic American savory snacks that everyone grew up with. This thing called Huang Fei Hong—fried peanuts seasoned with chilies and Sichuan peppercorns—is the cultural equivalent in China (Editors' note: If you can't find these where you live, they're widely available online). It’s everywhere, eaten by everyone, spicy, numbing, salty, and unstoppable, the perfect beer food. But very few people realize the true potential of this humble snack that they pop aimlessly into their mouths without a second thought, and that is, when pureed into a thick and velvety sauce, it can be used for the best, most life-changing spicy cold peanut noodle dish you’ve ever tasted. If you tend to go senseless in the presence of cold peanut noodles, don’t make this.

A note on My Ultimate Chile Oil: I once thought about bottling this stuff and selling it as my ticket to an early retirement in a grand château in the French countryside. It is that good. During my chile oil–sodden years in New York, Beijing, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, swimming through countless commercial brands and the versions offered in restaurants, I could always find legitimate reasons that this recipe is comparably more versatile and better tasting. And that’s saying a lot.

Excerpted with permission from William Morrow Cookbooks from The Art of Escapism Cooking by Mandy Lee, 2019. —Mandy @ Lady and pups

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Makes enough sauce for 4 main dish or 6 appetizer servings
  • Huang Fei Hong Peanut Sauce
  • 5 ice cubes (about 1-square-inch/2.5-square-cm cubes), plus more as needed
  • 1/2 pound (210 g) bag of Huang Fei Hong spicy peanuts
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 mL) soy sauce, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • To Assemble (& To Make My Ultimate Chile Oil)
  • 4 bricks instant ramen noodles
  • 1 handful large handful mixed chopped aromatics and herbs (scallions, cilantro, and so on)
  • 1 splash toasted sesame oil, plus more to taste
  • 1 splash My Ultimate Chile Oil (see below), for drizzling, or your favorite chile oil (optional)
  • 1 pinch Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
  • My Ultimate Chile Oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) Sichuan (spicier) or Korean (milder) chile flakes (I don’t recommend using any other kind)
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 cups (480 mL) canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground Sichuan peppercorns
In This Recipe
  1. Huang Fei Hong Peanut Sauce
  2. To make the sauce: Place the ice cubes (these prevent the mixture from overheating and breaking), and the rest of the peanut sauce ingredients in a blender. Blend on high speed for 2 minutes, until the mixture is extremely smooth and silky, like mayonnaise. If it’s too thick, blend in more ice cubes. Use right away, or transfer to an airtight container and keep in the fridge until needed, for up to two weeks.
  1. To Assemble (& To Make My Ultimate Chile Oil)
  2. To assemble the noodles: Cook the ramen noodles until just done. Drain well and stick in an ice water bath until completely cold. Drain well again, and mix together with the chopped herbs and a generous splash of toasted sesame oil to coat. Then add an obnoxious amount of Huang Fei Hong sauce to thickly coat every strand and toss again. Season with more soy sauce if needed and give it a few grinds of black pepper. Optionally drizzle with My Ultimate Chile Oil (method below). I like to sprinkle some coarse turbinado sugar to get that occasional sugary crunch, but my husband, Jason, doesn’t like it. So you be the judge.
  3. To make My Ultimate Chile Oil (optional): Mix the soy sauce and grated garlic together. Set aside. Using a spice grinder, grind the chile flakes, star anise pod, coriander, cumin, and curry powder into a fine powder. In a large saucepan at least 6 inches (15 cm) deep, combine the spice powder with the oil, sesame seeds, and bay leaves. Set it over medium heat and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the chile flakes have turned maroon in color (but not black!). When the chile flakes have turned to the desired color, turn off the heat immediately, then add the ground Sichuan peppercorns. Stir and let fry in the residual heat for about 30 seconds, then add the soy sauce/garlic mixture. The oil will boil up a little due to the added moisture (which is why we’re using a deep pot). Just keep stirring until the sizzling has died down. Let the chile oil sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours (or best overnight) before using. Keep in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 3 months.

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