Cacio e Sichuan Pepe

I love the simplicity of cacio e pepe and never really thought of anything I could do to put a new twist on it until recently. I love working with the numbing and almost flavor-changing Sichuan pepper and had a large bag that I shared with a friend. He told me he used it in carbonara and I decided it would be fun to feature this pepper in a cacio e pepe dish. I replaced half the black pepper in the dish with Sichuan pepper and added some chili since it works so well with the numbing peppercorn. I really loved how this simple dish came out and the last minute idea to top it with fresh serrano peppers really brought in a freshness and brought everything together.
I first cooked the three peppers in some olive oil to help bring out the flavors. Then I added the oil and some soy sauce to grated pecorino cheese. Mix the cheese with the oil and soy sauce to form a paste. Then add the hot pasta and toss well to form the quick sauce, adding a little of the pasta cooking liquid to help bring things together. I really liked this dish. Simple, spicy, and very flavorful with minimal ingredients or time spent. Watch out with that Sichuan pepper though! I originally used slightly too much and my mouth was tingling for an hour and it makes water taste really weird.

Cacio e Sichuan Pepe

  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground sichuan pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes (I used gochugaru)
  • 8 ounces thick spaghetti
  • 1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano
  • 1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • thinly sliced serrano pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring the water to a boil and drop the pasta in.
  2. Bring the oil to a medium low heat and add in the black, Sichuan, and red peppers. Stir and cook for 5 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Put the cheese into a large bowl and add the soy sauce. Add in the warm pepper oil. Stir well to form a thick paste.
  4. When the pasta is ready add it directly to the bowl and stir vigerously to combine and form the sauce. Add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water to help the sauce form,
  5. Serve the pasta and top with more black pepper, chili pepper, cheese, and the serrano slices.