Our Best Spicy Sichuan Recipes to Numb Your Tongue

There's loads of flavor to go with that signature mouth-tingling heat

Numb tongue, lips tingling, and mouth salivating from blasts of vinegar—this is the magic of Sichuan cooking. Located in southwestern China, the Sichuan province—also famed as the home of pandas—is known for its namesake Sichuan peppers. Unlike other chili peppers, these beauties induce a unique tingling and buzzing feeling yet without the direct heat, making for some of our favorite dishes in the Chinese culinary canon.

Start with the basics: one of the world's best dipping and seasoning sauces is Sichuan chile oil. Then, move on to veggies, meats, and some of the best noodle soups. From kung pao chicken to mapo tofu, here are our absolute best Sichuan recipes to try today.

Spicy Sichuan "Water Boiled" Fish and Celery

Water boiled fish
Give mild fish a serious lick of heat with homemade chile oil and fermented black soy beans. You can serve the fish and vegetables with just a little broth, as shown here, or as a soup. Get the recipe for Spicy Sichuan "Water Boiled" Fish and Celery »Matt Taylor-Gross

Ma Yi Shang Shu ("Ants Climbing a Tree")

Ma Yi Shang Shu
The name for this Sichuanese dish means "ants climbing a tree" because of the way the ground pork clings to the strands of glass noodles. Get the recipe for Ma Yi Shang Shu ("Ants Climbing a Tree") »Ariana Lindquist

Sichuan Chile Oil

Chili Oil
A toasty, subtly fiery chile oil to drizzle over soup or dip with dumplings. It's worth making a large batch; the oil will keep at room temperature for a year. Get the recipe for Sichuan Chile Oil »Matt Taylor-Gross

Chao Shou (Sichuan Pork Wontons)

Chao Shou Shichuan Pork Wontons
The recipe for these tasty pork wontons is from noodle shop owner Ma Yingjun. See Matt Gross's article Flavors of Sichuan for information on hard-to-find ingredients. This recipe first appeared in our March 2013 issue along with Gross's story Capital of Heat. Get the recipe for Chao Shou (Sichuan Pork Wontons) »Ariana Lindquist

Sichuan Noodle and Pork Shoulder Soup (Yu Xiang Pai Gu Mian)

Sichuan Noodle and Pork Shoulder Soup (Yu Xiang Pai Gu Mian)
Chengdu noodle shop owner Ma Yingjun shared his recipe for this dish of stewed pork over noodles. See Matt Gross's article Flavors of Sichuan for information on hard-to-find ingredients. Get the recipe for Sichuan Noodle and Pork Shoulder Soup (Yu Xiang Pai Gu Mian) »Ariana Lindquist

Tangcu Muli Rouwan (Sweet and Sour Pork and Oyster Meatballs)

Tangcu Muli Rouwan Sweet and Sour Pork and Oyster Meatballs
These succulent Sichuan meatballs are fried until crisp, then coated with a sweet and sour sauce. See Matt Gross's article Flavors of Sichuan for information on hard-to-find ingredients. Get the recipe for Tangcu Muli Rouwan (Sweet and Sour Pork and Oyster Meatballs) »Ariana Lindquist

Sichuan Twice-Cooked Pork Belly (Hui Guo Rou)

Twice cooked pork belly Hui Guo Rou
A classic Chinese dish made with boiled-then-stir-fried pork and plenty of leeks and fermented black soy beans. Boiling the pork (the first "cooked") renders some of the fat and makes it easier to slice and crisp up later in a blazing-hot wok. Get the recipe for Sichuan Twice-Cooked Pork Belly (Hui Guo Rou) »Matt Taylor-Gross

Lu Rou (Triple-Cooked Spareribs with Chiles)

Lu Rou Triple Cooked Spareribs with Chiles
These lavishly spiced ribs are based on a recipe from Chengdu home cook Ivy Hui. The ribs require an overnight marinade, so plan accordingly. See Matt Gross's article Flavors of Sichuan for information on hard-to-find ingredients. Get the recipe for Lu Rou (Triple-Cooked Spareribs with Chiles) »Ariana Lindquist

​Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken
Chiles, scallions, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce flavor tender chicken and peanuts in this moderately spicy dish. Get the recipe for Kung Pao Chicken »Helen Rosner

Dry-Fried Green Beans (Gan Bian Si Ji)

Dry-Fried Green Beans (Gan Bian Si Ji)
Thanks to my father, who always orders this dish at Chinese restaurants in America, gan bian si ji dou, the Mandarin name for Sichuan-style dry-fried green beans, was one of the few things I could say when I first moved to Beijing in 2009. The green beans are shallow-fried, a method which blisters them on the outside and renders them tender on the inside, with a whisper of a chew. Just enough pork for flavor cinches this dish, though the addition of ya cai, fermented Sichuan mustard greens, with their salty, umami flavor, makes it truly authentic and magical. Renditions vary, but the process of cooking it yourself—choosing whether it should be mild or spicy, garlicky or gingery, or if it should include dried chiles, salted black beans, or ground pork—is what makes the dish so likable. —Lillian Chou, a Beijing-based chef and writer Get the recipe for Dry-Fried Green Beans (Gan Bian Si Ji »)Todd Coleman

Sichuan Tofu and Ground Beef in Red Chile Sauce (Mapo Tofu)

Sichuan Tofu and Ground Beef in Red Chile Sauce (Mapo Tofu)
This spicy braise, garnished with mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns, is one of the region's most well-known dishes. Get the recipe for Sichuan Tofu and Ground Beef in Red Chile Sauce (Mapo Tofu) »Ariana Lindquist

Sichuan Noodles with Spicy Pork Sauce (Dan Dan Mian)

Sichuan Noodles with Spicy Pork Sauce (Dan Dan Mian)
For this beloved dish of China's Sichuan province, a tangle of wheat noodles is topped with a spicy, pungent pork sauce. This recipe is adapted from one in Fuschia Dunlop's Land of Plenty (W.W. Norton & Company, 2003). Inspired by an article in SAVEUR No. 154 (March 2013), it first appeared in our Jan/Feb 2014 SAVEUR 100 issue with the article 20 Years of SAVEUR: Capital of Heat. Get the recipe for Sichuan Noodles with Spicy Pork Sauce »TK