2 cups baby spinach (or steamed/sautéed kale or pak choi)
for topping: roasted peanuts, cilantro, basil, or green onions
Spicy Sichuan Sauce
In a medium-size saucepan, heat the canola oil over medium heat. After about 1 minute, dip the handle of a wooden spoon or spatula into the oil. If it starts bubbling around the handle, the oil is hot enough.
Remove the oil from heat and add the red pepper flakes, Sichuan peppercorns, anise star, and bay leaf. Cover with a lid immediately as it may splatter. Let the oil cool completely, in the meantime prepare the tempeh. Once the oil is cold, strain through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the aromatics.
Transfer the chili oil to a small bowl. Stir in the soy sauce, toasted sesame paste, white rice vinegar, soybean paste, coconut sugar, and minced garlic. Mix to combine. Reserve one tablespoon of the sauce and divide the rest into 4 serving bowls, set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, five spice, ground cumin, and smoked paprika together.
Using your hands, scramble the tempeh into small pieces. You can also use a food processor if you prefer and pulse a few times until roughly chopped. Add the tempeh to the bowl and stir to coat. Let marinate at least 30 minutes.
Cook the noodles according to the package instructions.
While the noodles are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the marinated tempeh and cook for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the reserved Sichuan sauce and stir to coat the tempeh with the sauce.
To assemble: pour about 1/4 cup of the noodles cooking water into each bowl. Mix the cooked noodles with the baby spinach (the heat from the noodles will cook the spinach). Divide the noodles into the bowls. Top with tempeh scramble, a few peanuts, and fresh basil (or green onions). Serve immediately.
Make sure to stir well to coat the noodles with the sauce.
Noodles will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator and can be eaten cold.
If you don’t have toasted sesame paste, use 1 tbsp tahini mixed with 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil.