Suan La Fen

With the return of winter and the approach of Tết, I have this taste for noodles in a rich broth with throat-searing spice and the added acid of fermented vinegar. A hot and sour soup on steroids, with an extra portion of hot and sour.

Luck for me, just a block or so away from my office is a glorious noodle shop. Sadly for me, I visit infrequently, so I must “Fend for myself.” To slake this craving, I shall fall upon the Sichuan Province in an orgy of cultural misappropriation, throwing tradition to the winds in search of rapid and total satiation.

This is less of a recipe and more of an assembly job; it will still taste miles better than the noodle shop near my home.

A few notes, I’ll use sweet potato glass noodles for this, and one can swap the chicken stock out for vegetable stock to make this vegetarian friendly. And to make sure I offend everyone, I’ll pass spicy kimchi, cilantro, and sliced chili peppers as toppings. As always, chili oil, crisp, and hot sauce will be on hand should the spice level fail to meet my expectations.

Traditionally the blessed oil is created in the soup bowl, but I’ve opted to heat my oil in a small pot and add the various spices there.

As always, do be careful; I know of at least one person who was hospitalized after telling a Thai chef, “Burn Me.” the addition of a handful of fresh Thai Chilies to the dish proved to be too much for the gentleman.

Suan La Fen

A glorious noodle soup of a rich base layered with spicy, numbing, sour, and umami flavors
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Asian
Servings 2
Calories 309 kcal


  • 4 oz Noodles of choice Traditionally Glass Noodles
  • 3 cup Chicken Stock Beef or Veggie work well here
  • 1/2 inch Ginger Nub Peeled and minced
  • 2 cloves Garlic Peeled and Minced
  • 1 tsp Gochugaru Flakes Or Chili Flakes
  • 4 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tbsp Black Vinegar substitute rice vinegar/rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dark Soy Sauce substitute Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Sesame Oil Toasted is so nice
  • 1 tbsp Chili Oil Or chili crisp / sauce
  • 2 ea Scallions Washed, minced
  • 1 tbsp Cilantro Washed, Minced
  • 1 cup Greens Fresh, optional, washed, stemmed, stripped
  • 3 tbsp Dry Roasted Peanuts
  • 1/2 tsp Sichuan Pepper Corns Ground
  • Spicy Kimchi Optional
  • Chili Peppers Washed, Stemmed, Slivered, Optional


  • Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook the noodles according to package instructions.
  • Once cooked, drain and rinse in cold running water. Set aside.
  • Heat your stock in a separate pot. Keep it at a medium simmer.
  • In a small pot, heat four tablespoons of oil until it’s shimmering and smoking lightly
  • Add ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, and pepper flakes to the oil, stir, and remove from heat. (Note: These will sizzle.)
  • Add the vinegar, soy sauces, sugar, Sichuan peppercorn powder, black pepper, sesame oil, and chili oil to the blessed oil
  • Divide the oil / spice mixture into the bottom of two soup bowls
  • Add the greens to the soup bowl, and stir to coat.
  • Pour the hot stock into the bowl, and mix well.
  • Add the cooked noodles, and top with the scallions, cilantro, and roasted peanuts.
  • Taste, Season and Balance Flavors


This is more of an assembly job than an actual recipe. Nonetheless, it is a winter’s feast.
One can use just about any fresh green here, bok choy, kale, mustard, etc.  Just wash well, remove the stems then roll and chiffonade to reasonable widths.


Calories: 309kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 14gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 683mgPotassium: 557mgFiber: 2gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 560IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 34mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Noodles, Soup, Spicy
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

  Filed under: Asian, Autumn, Cultural-Misappropriation, Quick, Soup, Winter

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