Sichuan food is like a drug. I get withdrawals when I don’t have it. I think it has something to do with the numbing Sichuan pepper. Normally, I eat it once a week, and my favourite restaurants are Sichuan House and Tina’s Noodle Kitchen.

During Melbourne’s lockdown, I was going through chemo. My immunity was compromised and I wasn’t allowed to leave the house. Neither restaurant could deliver to me, so I had to come up with this recipe.

The chemo really affected my tastebuds and I needed things that were extra punchy and extra spicy. This dish is that at the best of times. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.

Shannon Martinez is the chef and owner of pioneering Melbourne vegan restaurant Smith & Daughters.

Chongqing noodles, by Shannon Martinez
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients
3 tbsp copha or vegetable oil
250g vegan mince
2.5cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
40g (¼ cup) chopped zha cai
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 spring onions, white and green parts finely sliced and kept separate
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 tbsp tian mian jiang
400g cooked wide wheat noodles
2 bok choy, quartered and blanched
Chopped roasted peanuts, to serve
Coriander leaves, to serve

V2 vegan mince is available from most major supermarkets. It’s made in Australia. Vegan food isn’t just about animal welfare, but also environmental issues, so it’s important to buy local.

Asian grocers sell little pouches of zha cai, or Sichuan pickle, for about 70 cents. While you’re there pick up the tian mian jiang (sweet bean paste) and doubanjiang (fermented chilli bean paste).

Broth
800ml vegan chicken or vegetable stock
400g can chickpeas or cooked white peas
2.5cm piece of ginger, peeled and julienned
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp Sichuan chilli oil
1 tbsp Chinkiang black vinegar
1 tbsp doubanjiang
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp red Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and ground
½ tsp sugar optional

If you like it extra spicy, serve with prickly ash oil (often sold as Sichuan peppercorn oil). It’s optional but fun.

Method
Heat a wok or large heavy-based frying pan over high heat, then add the copha or vegetable oil. Add the mince and cook, breaking up any larger pieces with the back of a wooden spoon, for 4–5 minutes, until starting to brown.

Stir through the ginger, garlic, zha cai, chilli flakes and white part of the spring onion and saute for 30 seconds, then add the Shaoxing rice wine and tian mian jiang. Continue to saute for 3–4 minutes, until the mixture becomes dry. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, to make the noodle broth, place the stock and chickpeas in a saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add the remaining broth ingredients and stir through to combine.

To serve, divide the noodles among four large bowls, then pour over the broth. Top with the mince mixture, blanched bok choy, green spring onion, chopped roasted peanuts and coriander leaves.

This is an extract from the Broadsheet cookbook Home Made, which features 80 diverse recipes for home cooking, sourced from Melbourne's best cooks, chefs and restaurants. Published by Plum, the book is available for $49.95 at shop.broadsheet.com.au