I’m inspired once again by the brilliant Lady and Pups, who coined the term Crack Slurp and divulged its secrets to readers across the world.
But for me, the DNA of Crack Slurp had already long been familiar. From Snack Planet’s cold noodles with black vinegar and wood-ear mushrooms in Chicago; to White Bear’s wontons in chili oil in Flushing, New York; to a myriad of non-Chinese iterations (Thai, Vietnamese, and beyond), nearly the entire catalogue of Asia’s most addictive noodles consists of various regional expressions of Crack Slurp.
Each version features the same winning combination: A base of intoxicating chili oils, funkified with some kind of fermented paste; brightened with a splash of vinegar; freshened with aromatic green herbs; lubricated with rendered fat and made texturally titillating with fried crispy bits– all clinging to soft, comforting chewy noodles.
There are a lot of noodles I’d like to eat before I die. For whatever reason, noodles make me happy. And I’d like to die happy. But when I tasted my first Crack Slurp noodle, well. . . I wouldn’t say my search was over. . . actually, it only made me want more. . .
More of those SWEET ENDORPHINS!!
See, here’s the magical thing:
Somehow, the moment this stuff touched my tongue, I knew– as you do, if you’ve ever tasted this in any form– that this was the good old stuff; the stuff that food is supposed to taste like, and once did before fast food made us think bland was normal; the stuff that people who really knew about food have been eating long before you or I existed.
The stuff we forgot about.
No matter how many versions I eat, this stuff always feels fresh, like I’ve just tapped into some secret formula for electrifying taste buds.
This stuff WILL make you feel alive.
So grab a very cold cheap beer and get ready to toss some noods, because this is definitely drinking/hangover food.
One of my additions to the base recipe is Chinese sun-dried shrimp. They’re tiny, and when fried in the chicken fat, crisp up like crackling, and the fat becomes shrimp oil-infused schmaltz with extra umami and a sweet shrimp aroma.
You can find dried shrimp with or without their shells. I used the de-shelled kind. If you have access to a variety of dried shrimp (as I do in Hong Kong), buy the ones that smell the sweetest. You’ll need to soak them in water for about 30 minutes before frying them.
Start with this and adjust for your own taste:
2 tablespoons of rendered chicken fat (from chicken skins) + 2 tablespoons of fried shallots and chicken cracklings, seasoned with salt and white pepper.
1 tablespoon of dried shrimp, soaked in water for 30 min, then fried till crispy in chicken fat, seasoned with salt and white pepper.
1 tablespoon Japanese chili oil with fried garlic, sesame oil, and miso paste.
1.5 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 splash of sweetened black rice vinegar, 1 large pinch of toasted & ground Sichuan peppercorns, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 dash shichimi, 1 pinch each of sugar, white pepper, and MSG, and plenty of chopped cilantro.
Fresh wheat noodles. Boil until soft yet springy.
Put crack and sauce in a bowl, add fresh wheat noodles, mix mix mix, and slurp.