Hot and Sour Noodle Soup (Suan La Fen 酸辣粉)

Hot and Sour Noodle Soup (Suan La Fen 酸辣粉)

Suan La Fen (酸辣粉) is a popular street food from the Sichuan province of China. This spicy and tangy noodle soup is known for its flavourful broth, chewy noodles, and the mix of spices that add a unique taste to every bite. It's truly a tongue-tingling experience for the palette and senses. While making the noodles from scratch can be a bit challenging (though definitely worth the effort), our method inspired by Elaine from China Sichuan Food is easy and yields thick, chewy noodles that are perfect for this dish.

Traditionally, Suan La Fen is made with sweet potato starch, which can be difficult to get. We actually prefer the chewiness and ease of plain potato starch, but you can use either for this recipe, just make sure to adjust the water a little as described in Step 1. You can, of course, also skip the fuss and simply buy ready-made sweet potato starch noodles instead and follow the rest of the recipe. Just check the instructions on the back, as some of them require soaking overnight.


  • 300g potato starch or sweet potato starch (or 250g dried sweet potato noodles)

  • 400ml veg stock

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 1/2 tsp ground Sichuan pepper

  • 2 tbsp black vinegar

  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce

  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce

  • 1 tsp golden sugar

  • 2 tbsp chilli oil + 1 tsp sediment (I used Gulp)

  • 2 spring onions

  • 2 tbsp pickled mustard stems (you can buy them in Asian grocery stores)

  • 20g coriander

  • 2 tbsp deep-fried soy beans (see note below to make your own)

  • 2 tbsp deep-fried peanuts (see note below to make your own)

  • vegetable oil for frying the soy beans and peanuts (see note below)


To start, bring a large pan of water to a boil and turn on the kettle for extra boiling water. In a mixing bowl, mix the potato starch with the appropriate amount of boiling water (240 ml for potato starch, 250 ml for sweet potato starch) to form a dough. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until smooth, then divide it in half. Roll each half into a long rectangle and cut into strips. Roll each strip into a thick noodle and place on a baking tray.

Now, onto the sauce. In a saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Peel the garlic cloves and grate them into a small mixing bowl. Add Sichuan pepper, vinegar, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, chili oil, and chili sediment to the garlic and stir together. Divide the mixture over two serving bowls. Finely slice the spring onions and set aside in a bowl. Roughly chop the mustard stems and coriander and set aside in separate bowls.

To serve, check the boiling water and reduce it to a gentle simmer. Cook all the noodles in the simmering water until they begin to float (30-60 seconds). Divide the hot stock over the serving bowls. Skim the noodles off the water and add them to the bowls. Sprinkle the sliced spring onions, chopped mustard stems, coriander, soybeans, and peanuts over the bowls. Serve immediately.

In conclusion, Suan La Fen is a delicious and unique dish that is sure to satisfy those who crave bold flavors and culinary adventures. Making the noodles from scratch may require some effort, but it's well worth it. Alternatively, ready-made sweet potato starch noodles are a great option for those who want a more convenient option. Try this recipe at home and experience the tantalizing blend of spices and textures that make Suan La Fen such a beloved dish.


    To make your own fried soybeans, start by soaking 100g of soybeans in plenty of water overnight. The next morning, drain them well and dry them on some kitchen paper. Heat a wok or shallow pan and pour in enough vegetable oil to shallow fry them on medium-heat until they turn golden brown, which usually takes around 10-15 minutes. Once done, transfer them to a small bowl or glass, sprinkle with salt, and stir to coat evenly.

    If you'd like to add peanuts to the mix, simply add 100g of raw peanuts to the hot oil and fry them until they turn golden brown, which usually takes around 5 minutes. Proceed with the same method as you did with the soybeans. If you prefer to use less oil, you can skip the soybeans and roast the peanuts in the oven instead. Once finished, transfer the soybeans and peanuts to a paper towel-lined cooling rack to remove any excess oil. Store the fried soybeans and peanuts in an airtight jar until you are ready to use them. With this simple method, you can have a crunchy and satisfying snack that you can easily add to your salads, stir-fries, and other dishes.

    Back to blog

    Leave a comment