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Tuesday 8 October 2013

Sluttishly Vegetarian: Spicy Szechuan Noodles

This has to be a favourite mid-week supper: quick and easy with a mouth-watering drop-kick of chilli. My friend introduced me to the meat-version of this dish as 'crack chicken', because - he told me seriously over the wok - once you start making it, you're hooked. Much like crack.

Nice metaphor there, crazy face. However: he wasn't wrong. There's something deeply satisfying about the combination of chilli-red, caramelised tofu or Quorn chunks, crunchy fresh vegetables and spicy, fragrant Szechuan peppercorn coated noodles. Oh, and if you use tofu, it happens to be dairy free too. Hurrah!

You can actually find chilli bean paste or sauce in quite a few supermarkets, but a trip to your local Chinese shop is always much more fun, and you'll definitely find everything you need there.

As we've mentioned before, tofu always works best if you can squeeze as much liquid out of it as possible before you use it: if it's been packed in water, then wrap it in kitchen towel and wham something heavy on top of it for an hour or two beforehand. Of course, you can also replace the Quorn or tofu with chicken, if you're that way inclined. Just be sure to adjust your cooking times accordingly. Feel free to add / substitute any thinly-sliced vegetables as you like.

Spicy Szechuan Noodles (Serves 2)
You will need: 
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil (or another nut oil)
  • 200g Quorn pieces (defrosted if frozen) or firm tofu, cut into chunks
  • 2 tsp whole Szechuan peppercorns
  • 2 red or green chillies, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp chilli bean paste
  • 2 tbsp rice wine 
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 sheets dried egg noodles 
  • Handful of fine beans, sliced diagonally
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 spring onions, sliced diagonally
Make it!
  1. On the stove, heat the oil in a wok until very hot. Throw in your prepared tofu or Quorn (careful of sizzling!) Cook for 5 minutes, until the edges are starting to brown. 
  2. Add in the peppercorns and half the fresh chillies and fry for thirty seconds or so until fragrant.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium. Spoon in the chilli bean paste and stir quickly. Follow with the rice wine and soy sauce and stir together. 
  4. Cook for 10 minutes, until the Quorn / tofu is beautifully caramelised around the edges. 
  5. While it is cooking, prepare your noodles, according to the instructions on the packet. 
  6. Par-boil the fine beans for 3-5 minutes, or with place with 2 tbsp water in a microwaveable bowl and cook for 1-2 minutes. Drain before use.
  7. Tip the prepared noodles, beans, remaining fresh chillies, red pepper and onions into the wok. Stir fry together for 2 minutes, making sure the noodles are coated. 
  8. Tip into bowls and serve immediately. 


  1. Szechuan pepper is my absolute favourite spice. That's dinner sorted tonight!

    1. It totally changed my life, peppery, lemony, fragrant... YUM


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