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Yibin Flaming Noodles

燃面 [rán miàn] translates as flaming noodles or burning noodles - sounds really spicy, but that is not how it got the name. These noodles are special. In the old days, people will light it up as a wick for kerosene lamps. That’s the name's origin.

I think it is the most delicious noodle dish, so it is definitely worth giving a try, but it consists of many different components, which is a bit complicated. Don’t worry. I will break it down and go through them one by one as detailed as possible, so you can enjoy these local Chinese noodles in your kitchen.


To Make the Noodles (3 servings)

  • 300 grams (10.6 oz) of high gluten flour or bread flour, or baker’s flour
  • 1/3 tsp of soda ash (碱面)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 140 grams (5 oz) of water
  • 3-4 tbsp of cornstarch to prevent sticking

For the seasoned sweet soy sauce

  • 265 grams (1 cup) of regular light soy sauce
  • 240 grams (1 cup) of water
  • 71 grams (1/3 cup) of brown sugar
  • 1 dried shitake mushroom, crushed
  • 3 slices of ginger
  • a shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 scallion
  • 4-5 cilantro leaves
  • 1 small stick of cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 piece of bay leave
  • 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp of white pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp of Sichuan peppercorn


  • 280 grams (1.25 cups) of cooking oil
  • 1 scallion
  • 3 slices of ginger,
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp of Sichuan peppercorn powder
  • 1/2 cup of mild chili flake
  • 1.5 tbsp of spicy chili flake
  • 1.5 tbsp of sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of Chinese black vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of Lithospermum root (Zicao紫草), optional

To Make the Roasted Nut Powder

  • 40 grams (1/3 cup) of roasted peanut
  • 2.5 tbsp of roasted walnut
  • 1.5 tbsp of roasted sesame seeds

To Make The Sea Weed Soup

  • 940ml (4 cups) of chicken stock
  • 70 grams (2.5 oz) of bean sprouts
  • 6 grams (1/2 cups) of dried seaweed
  • 1 tsp of salt


  • 1 package of Yacai (diced pickled mustard green), about 5 oz
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cups of water
  • 2-3 scallions, diced
  • A bunch of cilantro leaves, diced


Make The Alkaline Noodles

Ran Main (燃面) uses “Jian Shui Mian碱水面,” which is a type of noodle that contains soda ash. Soda ash is also known as washing soda or sodium carbonate (Na2CO3). The soda ash raises the PH level of the dough, which makes the noodles chewier. Just to be clear, you don’t have to make your own noodles because you can use regular egg noodles or pasta as a replacement, but it is always nice to know the process.

Mix 1/3 tsp of soda ash and 1/2 tsp of salt with 140 grams of water. Pour the solution into 300 grams of bread flour little by little and mix until the water is well distributed. If you don’t have bread flour, you can also use all-purpose flour.

I have to use a Kitchenaid to do the kneading. Use the hook attachment and let it run at low speed for 10 minutes. You can knead it by hand for 10 minutes if you don't have a machine. This is a low water ratio dough, so the flour won’t join together into a big piece. It will be many little pieces like this. You just combine them together manually. Divide it into 3 even pieces because the amount I gave is enough to make 3 portions of noodles.

Put on the pasta roller attachment. Flatten each dough so it can go through the machine easier. Start with the thickest setting. It will come out rough, and the edge is jagged. That is fine. Just fold the sheet in half and feed it through the machine a few more times until the surface is smooth. Do the same thing to all 3 pieces of dough. Then you can gradually lower the thickness and continue to feed the sheets through the machine until they reach your desired thickness. For Jian Shui Mian 碱水面, I normally use level 4 as the final thickness.

Apply a generous amount of cornstarch on the surface to prevent sticking. Wheat flour does prevent the sticking but only for a short time because the glutens tend to connect to each other, which makes the noodles stick together. Cornstarch doesn’t contain any gluten so it will separate the noodles for a long time.

Switch the attachment to the noodle cutter and feed the sheet through. Look at these perfect noodles.

Add more cornstarch into the mixing bowl and toss the noodles to coat nicely. Shake off the excess. Cover the noodles and set them aside,

Make the Seasoned Sweet Soy Sauce

We will move on to the second component - seasoned sweet soy sauce or what we call "Fuzhi Jiangyou 复制酱油."It is the main flavor of flaming noodles. It is also used in many Sichuan recipes, such as Zhong’s dumplings, mouth-watering chicken, and garlic pork slices. However, there is no way to buy this ingredient outside of China, so you have to make it yourself.

In a sauce pot, combine the following ingredients and bring it to a boil. Then turn the heat to low, and let it simmer without the lid until more than half of the liquid (3/5 of the liquid) is evaporated. This will take 20-30 minutes.

  • 1 cup of regular light soy sauce
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 dried shitake mushroom, you don’t need to presoak it. Just roughly cut it into pieces by using a kitchen scissors.
  • 3 slices of ginger
  • a shallot, which I have thinly sliced
  • one scallion, I tie it into a knot
  • 4-5 cilantro leaves, tie them together as well
  • 1 small stick of cinnamon,
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 piece of bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp of white pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp of Sichuan peppercorns

Looking at such a big list of ingredients for just soy sauce, some of you may want to ask, is there any replacement? The closest thing I can think of is a mixture of soy sauce, sugar and five-spice powder, but the flavor is still different. This is why it is so hard to find this dish outside China. Most people just don’t want to trade the effort for real authentic food.

30 minutes later, more than half of the liquid (3/5 of the liquid) is gone. Let it go through a sieve to get rid of all the solid ingredients. We made more than what we needed for today’s recipe. You can store the extra it in a sealed container. It will last half of a year in the fridge. Once cooled, the texture of the seasoned sweet soy sauce should be slightly thick due to the added brown sugar.

Make the Hot Chili Oil (You Po La Zi 油泼辣子)

Next, we will talk about the Sichuan red chili oil. We call it You Po La Zi. It is one of the must-have ingredients. I have used it in many of my recipes.

In a big bowl, add Sichuan peppercorn powder, mild chili powder, spicy chili powder (I like to use different kinds of chili powder to balance the flavor), sesame seed, salt, and Chinese black vinegar. Mix well.

In a sauce pot, add 1 cup + 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, 1 scallion, 3 slices of ginger, 2 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, and 2 bay leaves. Heat it over medium heat until the aromatics are nicely charred.

Sieve out all the aromatics and discard them. Optionally, put 2 tbsp of Lithospermum root (Zicao紫草) on a sieve and swirl it in the oil for 20-30 seconds. I recently discovered this new ingredient - 紫草. It has no flavor, so it is optional but it will dye the oil into a beautiful purple-red color.

Pour the hot chili oil (make sure it is at least 400F) into the chili flakes in batches and stir well. Although chili powder does give the oil a red color, with the Lithospermum root, the color is more vivid. We made more than we needed, so you can store the extra chili oil in a sealed container. It will last four months at room temperature or a year in the fridge.

Make the Roasted Nut Powder

Let’s talk about the 4th component - I think roasted nut powder is the most important topping; it elevates the noodles to another level.

Put the peanut, walnut, and sesame seeds into baking pans and bake them in a 350 F oven. The walnut and the peanut are bigger; bake them for 14 minutes. The sesame seeds are small, you only need to bake them for 12 minutes.

Once done, let them cool. Put the nuts into a blender and blend into a rough powder. If your nuts are toasted, you can just directly blend them.

Stir Fry the Preserved and Minced Mustard Green (Sui Mi Ya Cai 碎米芽菜)

Another important topping for flaming noodles is Sui Mi Ya Cai (碎米芽菜). It is preserved and minced mustard green. It has a nice fermented flavor and umami taste. It also got a crunchy texture. This is how the package looks.

The packaged Yacai is a bit too wet. So I like to add it into a wok without anything. Stir over medium heat until some of the moisture is evaporated. This step is optional but it does make the yacai extra crunchy. By the way, if you don't have access to buy Yacai, you can use some diced kimchi or other types of pickles. Alright, set the yacai into a bowl and let’s go through the rest of the ingredients.

Make the Garlic Water (蒜水)

The garlic water is easy to make. Just press 4 cloves of garlic through a garlic presser. Then add 1/4 cup of water and mix well.

Besides that, you will need a couple of scallions and a little bit of cilantro. You have to dice it as fine as possible so they can cling onto the noodle strings when you mix everything.

Assemble the Flaming Noodles

Alright, we have all the toppings ready on the table. Let me show you how to assemble the flaming noodles.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Fresh noodles (1 portion /150 grams of fresh noodles) cook fast. It just needs a couple of minutes. If you are not sure, you can take a bite. We want the noodles to be al dente, which means the center is still firm and chewy.

Take out the noodles and shake well. This is important because the noodles will reabsorb the moisture and become less chewy.

Put the noodles into a serving bowl. Add a general amount of red chili oil (I used 3 tbsp), 1.5 tbsp of seasoned sweet soy sauce, 2 tsp of garlic water, 1.5 tbsp of roasted nut powder, some diced cilantro, and scallions, If you genetically hate cilantro, use scallions only. Add a couple of tbsp of yacai and mix well.

That’s it. You have made a bowl of flaming noodles. I have seen some restaurants will add some minced pork for more flavor. I didn’t because this dish is too complicated, and it is flavorful and delicious without the pork anyway.

Oh, the texture of the noodles is the best; so nice and chewy. The taste is super flavorful, spicy, and salty. I love the ya cai and the roasted nuts; they add so many textures. We spend a lot of time making it, but as soon as you take a bite, all the effort is paid off.

Oh, by the way, flaming noodles are pretty oily and spicy, so traditionally, we will serve it with some seaweed soup, which is very easy to make.

Bring 4 cups of chicken stock to a boil. Toss some bean sprouts and seaweed. Season the soup with some (1/2 tsp) salt and black pepper to taste. I used the store-bought stock because I didn’t want to make this dish more difficult, LOL! This soup really refreshes your mouth and makes the noodle even more enjoyable. However, you can serve the noodles with a different soup if you want.

At the end, I want to test to see if we can light up the noodles. I know some of you are wondering about the purpose of that. Well, you don’t have to light up the noodles, it is just a sign that tells you the noodles are perfectly chewy and seasoned with tons of chili oil. Ancient Chinese people may use it as a wick, but I am just doing it to prove the theme of the name.


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