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Calling all chili heads - what's your favorite spicy dish? Any cuisine!

We're hosting a spicy potluck this Friday, and I'm looking for some inspiration.

My man will prepare spicy lahmaçun -- some other things people are bringing:

- a Korean pork dish (can't remember the name right now)
- ma po tofu
- an "Indian" dish (yeah, not much to go on, I know)
- spicy citrus salad

My go-to recipe would be a very spicy version of my peanut or sesame noodles, but I'm so very open to suggestions. I'd love to try something new!!!


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  1. The first time I had Dan Dan Noodles, I though I'd died and gone to heaven.

    21 Replies
      1. re: roxlet

        The first time I had Dan Dan Noodles, I though I'd died and gone to heaven.


        Actually, any time I have really good (and I mean REALLY GOOD) Dan Dan Mian, I think I've gone to heaven and lived to tell about it.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          I'm making this tonight for the first time (Fuchsia Dunlop recipe). Keeping my fingers crossed.

          1. re: c oliver

            The recipe for boss Xie's noodles is slightly difference between the two books. I think the one in her memoir (Shark's Fin...) is more recent, but haven't written her yet about whether the later recipe is a correction of the one in her Sichuan book, or just some slight changes.

            Obviously, everyone makes this dish differently but when I have it in restaurants, it's frequently a bit soupier - she doesn't mention it in her recipes, but I think you will get the best texture and slippery-ness by adding a little pasta cooking water to the final product.

            With fresh noodles, at least (I use fresh, thin, eggless noodles from the Chinese market) I find that undercooking them slightly also results in a better end result.

            1. re: will47

              Thanks for the tips. The recipe definitely sounds drier than what I've come to expect. I don't have the option of fresh noodles but I'm sure it will be good.

              1. re: c oliver

                The Dunlop recipe is fantastic. I do like the sauce a bit thicker so it drapes on the noodles. I could eat it for weeks on end and never get bored of it.

                1. re: JungMann

                  Well, JM, if YOU say it then I'm REALLY glad I'm fixing it.

            2. re: c oliver

              Let us know how they turn out!!!

              1. re: roxlet

                NY Chinese food expert scoopG says this is the best recipe he's found - I must try it, I don't think I've ever made dandan mian, at least not in ages and ages.

                1. re: buttertart

                  ScoopG is great. That's a wonderful rec. Just finished lunch so I'm gonna make the sauce now. Bob and SIL are skiing in about 6' of fresh powder so I have the house to myself.

                2. re: roxlet

                  It was fantastic! I just had a few forkfuls as a little snack. I also think I'd like it a little wetter. Maybe just more of the chili oil. What I'm going to love about this going forward is that the ingredients are things I always have on hand. What a winner.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Which Dunlop book is this recipe from?

                    1. re: roxlet

                      Land of Plenty, p. 89-90, Xie Laoban's dan dan noodles. A quick google didn't turn up the exact recipe. Though I've had this book for awhile I hadn't cooked from it. She gives very precise instructions which I really like. After doing it once, I'll consider it super easy in the future.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        As mentioned above, the version in "Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper" is slightly different. I believe there's a version of it here:

                        I'm pretty sure the note about tahini being a substitute for Chinese sesame paste must have been added by the Post; tahini is NOT a good substitute for Chinese sesame paste, which is very different.

                        1. re: will47

                          It's close tho' she has you pour hot peanut oil over the dried chilis and the peppercorns are ground.

                          And here's a post I made about sesame paste/tahini. You're correct.


                          ETA: No, I was wrong about that. The oil is poured over the chili flakes.

                        2. re: c oliver

                          Have put the book on my wish list. About how many recipes have you cooked out of it? Have never had those noodles and I'd love to try them.

                          1. re: bayoucook

                            First time cooking from it but I'll be correcting that! It was a COTM and here's one of the links. I used some of the leftover ground peppercorns and chili oil in a beef and pasta casserole - lol. I'm hooked.


                            1. re: c oliver

                              I'm going to explore that. I have some Sichuan (sp) peppercorns that I ordered last time from Penzey's. Also have Alleppo pepper which I haven't tried yet. Any opinions on that?

                              1. re: bayoucook

                                Never met a spicy application that I didn't like. Eating oatmeal with sriracha as I type this.

                                1. re: bayoucook

                                  Sichuan is the correct spelling in Pinyin, the official People's Republic of China system of transliteration from Chinese into Roman letters.
                                  And the Dunlop books are fabulous - Revolutionary Chinese Cooking (on Hunanese food) is maybe even a bit better than LoP.

                                  1. re: bayoucook

                                    I like Aleppo pepper, but wouldn't let it anywhere near Sichuan cuisine. It's not spicy at all, but adds a nice flavor to Mediterranean / Middle Eastern dishes.

                3. Pho, Pho and more more pho.
                  Time consuming to make but so good.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Paprikaboy

                    Is pho ever spicy (other than via added condiments, in which case just about anything could be spicy)? I'd think Bun Bo Hue or other Viet noodle soups would be a better choice for a spicy food lover.

                    1. re: Paprikaboy

                      Pho isn't spicy without the condiments.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Pho isn't pho without the condiments! The more jalapenos and chili garlic sauce, the better.

                        1. re: southernitalian

                          But on the side, not IN the pho. To me pho is one of the ultimate have-it-as-you-like-it dish. I'm actually making 12 quarts of the stock today!

                          1. re: southernitalian

                            Most Vietnamese restaurants I frequent serve Thai bird chiles on the side, but one place also has sliced Scotch Bonnet peppers in vinegar in a jar on the table. A few drops of the vinegar and a few slices of chiles make an already fragrant broth sing.

                        2. re: Paprikaboy

                          I like its northern relative ( Bun Bo Hue) if I'm looking for spice. I also love vindaloo.

                          I am generous with the harrissa on my falafel.

                          1. Burmese mango pickle pork? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7412...
                            I make it all the time and it's v unusual. You can add some cayenne with the paprika.

                            1. My favorite homemade chile-intensive dishes tend to be Mexican.

                              Rick Bayless has a recipe for lamb and sweet potatoes simmered in a pasilla (a.k.a. "chile negro) sauce (see link below). Due to naturally occurring variability in chile heat, I've made batches that were merely "warm" and batches that nearly took my head off. If the sauce turns out milder than you like, you can always adjust it by adding a bit of chile paste made from hot New Mexico chiles or chipotles or by throwing in some halved fresh hot chiles without changing the overall flavor profile too much. If you feel like the meal has enough meat, you could try serving it without the lamb, which you could set aside for later use (e.g., as taco or torta filling). For what it's worth, I've successfully subbed butternut squash for the sweet potatoes in this dish.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: hohokam

                                my favorite is from bayless too! the mole negro he used to win TCM takes a ton of time but it is totally worth it!

                                1. re: hohokam

                                  This sounds terrific and I've saved it. I've been meaning to go in search of lamb shoulder (for burgers) so this will be on the menu also. Thanks.

                                2. piri piri chicken (wings) with treble the amount of chili? ja bitte!!! :) viel spaß!

                                    1. Pretty standard but give me a crazy hot texas chili (all beef, no beans) any day of the week.

                                      I also like to use jalapenos (or even better serranos) as the pepper in italian sausage and pepper heros. Hot italian sausage, fresh mozzarella, sauteed serranos and onions on a crusty roll makes a fine, spicy sandwich. Can use bulk sausage and dinner rolls for smaller servings.

                                      1. For a starter - som tum, Thai green papaya salad. Wonderful balance of sweet, hot, and crunchy.

                                        Fresh salsa - a simple mix of chopped tomatoes (canned San Marzanos are good), fresh onion, fresh cilantro, and all the fresh jalapeños (or even better, serranos) you can stand.

                                        1. Loooove really spicy jerk pork!

                                          1. My favorite spicy Mexican dish is Camarones a la Diabla & for Thai - Thai Shrimp Basil - extra spicy.
                                            I love extra heat with shrimp, to me they're just perfect together. Another favorite is Chili Crab not sure that's a good dish for a potluck...but you want inspiration.

                                            Another one is my Rubio's like salsa made from scratch. Toast chile flakes, add tomato salt, sugar, water. It simmers and its a balancing act with salty, hot not too much sweet. But great salsa that's addicting. If you've never eaten at Rubio's it might be hard to imagine.

                                            1. Wow! Those are all great ideas so far - save for the pho, perhaps... I'd like to avoid having to use soup bowls on top of all the other dinnerware (for 25 people) I don't own '-)

                                              In fact, I'd like to hear some more details about the Guyanese pepper pot (tho I can certainly google it) if it's more stew-ish than soupy & the curry laksa....

                                              We have a bunch of Central/South American friends coming by, so I think that area (salsa, etc.) might be covered....

                                              THANKS a lot so far! All very great ideas.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                Mmm. Curry laksa is a noodle soup, so perhaps not what you're looking for. At any rate, it's a Malaysian/Singaporean dish- sort of a very brothy curry, with noodles, a bit of meat, tofu, and bean sprouts.

                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                  Pepperpot is traditionally an Amerindian stew using a concentrated cassava extract mixed usually with molasses called Casreep. Not the easiest thing to find but I've got quite lucky finding it at some West Indian groceries in New Jersey and Queens NY
                                                  The stew consists of various tougher meat cuts, ox tails,pig tails, even Iguana sauted with onions,garlic,cilantro and hand fulls of scotch bonnet peppers. The Casreep is added,topped with water and skimmed regularly and allowed to slowly boil for several hours until tender, serve over rice or boiled ground provisions such as Cassava,yams, taro,green plantains.
                                                  The real thing can peel paint but you can understand the preservative properties necessary in a hot, humid climate. Good stuff.

                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                    Don't forget about your coffee cups, they will do and are actually nice for parties, the holder makes it handy to eat.
                                                    Any of the soups would be wonderful. I often serve a dish at my potlucks that needs a bowl and this is how I handle it. I have tons of coffee cups all sizes. Just in case you hadn't thought of it...
                                                    And by the way this sounds like a fun party that's going to have excellent food!!! wishful thinking happening over here...

                                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                                      True, dat. Though I don't think I have 25 coffee cups, to be honest.

                                                      I am looking forward to it. A few of our friends, I think, are a bit worried about the level of hotness (I'm pretty macho), but we'll have some tamer stuff on hand.

                                                      Found wasabi and sriracha peas that sound neat as a snacklet, and I may also end up poaching a load of shrimp and serving them with a very spicy cocktail sauce and a spicy mayo. Yeah, not very "out there", but it'll get et, fo' shizzle.


                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                        Peanuts quickly fried with cayenne or or other ground chiles. I've seen a Chinese recipe for these online that sounds awesome.

                                                  2. I love achaar gosht for spice and heat, and the dish must include chiles stuffed with lime juice moistened pickling masala.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: luckyfatima

                                                      Jerk paste made from scratch has an unforgettable complexity. You can make it as hot as you want. For a group of 25, you can do jerk skewers of chicken thighs or any protein of choice, as long as it can handle the low and slow cooking times.

                                                      Or, how about a Thai fish or seafood cake, made with red curry paste and fresh Thai bird chiles? These could be served with toothpicks like tapas.

                                                      I had the most amazing stuffed chile in India. It looked a little like a Pogo, stick and all, but it was a long chile that was stuffed with a spicy potato masala filling, much the same as for a samosa. The chile was coated and deep fried. Starting from the tip, it was spicy, but not killer hot. However, each bite got hotter as it got closer to the seeds at the other end. The last bite was screaming hot. The chile itself was really only medium hot, but mixed with the spices and hot from the fryer, it was quite spicy, though not mind numbingly so. Awesome. I never found another that was as perfect in taste, temperature and balance.

                                                      1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                        What you ate is a "Mirchi Bajji" ( a pepper/ chilli fritter, typical Indian style).I use Anaheims to make it most of the time.Slit the chilli stuff with a mixture of potato mix( bolied mashed potato, salt , chopped green chillies , cilantro and lime juice) and dip in a batter of chickpea flour( Besan+water+salt+chilli pwd- slightly thick consistancy).Dip to coat completely and deep fat fry.

                                                        1. re: shakkar

                                                          OMG, I want this. NOW. We have a blizzard coming in this after and I'd love this for a cozy dinner.

                                                            1. re: shakkar

                                                              Awesome! Thanks, Shakkar! I now have a name for my favourite street treat ... ever. I had an equally delicious samosa in a one-horse town in Rajasthan. I mentioned that I like spicy samosas while on the way to an attraction and the driver pf our car stopped in a nearby town to take me to his preferred samosa vendor. It was incredible. I haven't had one as good since (and I had several in the following days).

                                                        2. Jerk chicken or pork. You get intense heat AND depth of flavor. Make sure to get a good jerk PASTE, like Walkerswoods. The jerk "sauces", which are very thin, just don't cut it.

                                                          I've made my own jerk paste as well - flavor is brighter and more herbal than jarred, but the good jarred pastes are pretty good.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: sbp

                                                            I just had a look at the Walkerswoods website and don't see any paste there at all. Did you mean the marinade or just making a paste out of the rub?

                                                            1. re: Ferrari328

                                                              The one listed as "jerk seasoning" is a paste.

                                                          2. Texas chili
                                                            Pad ma-kur (alternate - any Thai curry)
                                                            Pasta alla arrabiata
                                                            Doro wat (or any other Ethiopian dish that takes lots of berbere)

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                              <"Pasta alla arrabiata">

                                                              Especially if the Arrabiata sauce is made with Scotch Bonnet chilies...

                                                            2. I've never had spicy lahmajoun. How does your Mann make it?

                                                              As far as other chiliphilic foods, Mexican carne enchilada says it all, I think. I mean it is chilied meat! Of course there's gumbo, which I like to make on the spicy side. If it's eaten over rice (or potato salad) you don't really need bowls. Larb could be a good appetizer served in endive leaves. Have you also thought about chili-laden desserts? I make chocolate mousse flavored with chile ancho, chipotle, cayenne and cinnamon for a dessert with a mild, but present burn.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: JungMann

                                                                I think he just cranks up the cayenne. But since we'll have some chili weaklings in the crowd, he won't go overboard. We do have to have some milder dishes.

                                                                And yeah, a spicy dessert was an idea, too -- namely, chili chocolate ice cream. But it'll most likely be tres leche flan. Not spicy at all, but at that point, some people might welcome the break '-)

                                                                1. re: JungMann

                                                                  The larb suggestion brings another one to mind - som tam (green papaya salad). Great for parties because it can be made well ahead of time. Yum.

                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                    Yeah, someone had suggested that further up thread. Not sure where/if I can get green papaya around here.

                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                      Whoops, you're right. BobB already ran that idea up the flagpole. Smeek.

                                                                      As far as sourcing green papaya goes, the Asian groceries around here tend to carry it pre-shredded. Makes whipping up a batch of som tam a snap, but you do have to have the right kind of store around. Are there any in Happy Valley?

                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                        It wouldn't be nearly as happy if we didn't. But we do. Off to the Asian grocery now.

                                                                2. I'm also one who makes my own jerk paste. Walkerswood brand will do in a pinch tho.
                                                                  Jerk wings made with REAL jerk might open some eyes as to what real jerk is, and how incredibly delicious it is. LET THE MEAT MARINATE OVERNIGHT. It's insanely delicious stuff, and not at all like some jarred dry rub from who knows what year, or some cloyingly sweet liquid from the marinade / bbq sauce aisle at the grocery store. There are recipes all over the web. It's a cinch with a blender or food proc.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: gordeaux

                                                                    I really can't take the bottled stuff, most have too much cinnamon and nutmeg, both of which I dislike in more than minute quantities. a real jerk rub will make you see god as some of my Jamaican friends would say.

                                                                    1. Another thought: cream-cheese-stuffed bacon-wrapped jalapenos:


                                                                      Wrap a Lil' Smokie sausage in there and you've got Atomic Buffalo Turds:


                                                                      1. Put together a good dipping sauce of diced wasabi, garlic, ginger and some green Thai chili peppers, mixed with some soy sauce, and mix it in a big bowl of congee.

                                                                        Just fabulous. Straight heat, delivered in an unobtrusive medium (rice porridge) that you can just swirl around your mouth without having to bother with details like chewing.

                                                                        It's, I suppose, the rice version of Dan Dan Mian ...

                                                                        1. how about a whole fish with a sichuanese style sauce?

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: fara

                                                                            another excellent idea that i'd consider if i hadn't had a huge sichuan meal yesterday with a number of friends who'll also be there tonight.

                                                                          2. Another spicy dish I thought of is Pollo Scapariella. Chicken thighs in a spicy- hot tomato based sauce. Hot cherry vinegar peppers and a bit of the juice accounts for the heat.
                                                                            It can very well be ladled over pasta but I like it with polenta. Here's my recipe:

                                                                            1. Authentic Biriyani....it is not too hot but has plenty of spices. i grew up with it and cant think of a better dish!

                                                                              1. How about killer shrimp?

                                                                                1. Well, it looks like I've made up my mind.

                                                                                  I've stuck with the peanut noodles (linguine fini, finely diced red and orange peppers, scallions; peanut sauce: natural crunchy peanut butter, sesame paste, sriracha, brown sugar, maggi sauce, a couple of soy sauces, garlic, rice vinegar, lime, some water).

                                                                                  I am also making a Thai-inspired shrimp & mango salad-- loosely based on yam nuah: the aforementioned shrimp (2 lbs.) & 1 finely diced champagne mango, finely diced red pepper, celery, and a scotch bonnet (yessss) - I might get another one if it's not enough heat, dressed with fish sauce & lime juice, maybe some brown sugar if I can dissolve it. Oh, and cilantro, of course, and maybe some chopped up celery leaves.

                                                                                  THANKS to all of you for your ideas and inspiration! I'll be sure to post some pics once the whole bounty is set.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. How about dry fried green beans with a bit of ground pork....you need some veggies!

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. I have two lovers
                                                                                      1. Vindaloo-I've been experimenting with a variety of recipes. I love the sweet, tangy, spicy feeling of a well executed Vindaloo

                                                                                      2. Sichuan Huǒ Guō- swimming with 'Heaven facing chilies' and Sichuan peppercorns! The total 'Ma-La' expericence-burning, tingling, numbing....culinary crack!

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: hypomyces

                                                                                        Oops! Forgot to cite the kick-ass chili/lemongrass sauce I found on the WanderingChopsticks blog (the best!)