What are Dan Dan Noodles anyways? Follow along and you will find out…
I had to do some research for this recipe because to be honest, I actually don’t prepare a lot of Asian style foods. It may be perhaps because the ingredients can sometimes be hard to find (especially if you don’t live near an Asian market) and it can sometimes become tedious preparation. Each cuisine has its main ingredient staples. If you have tomatoes, basil, Parmesan and pasta, you can whip up a delicious and simple Italian dinner. If you have olives, feta, red onion, tomato and cucumber, you can whip up a delicious and simple Mediterranean dinner. Asian cuisine isn’t so quick and more than likely, you won’t already have the ingredients needed in your kitchen.
Sure, you can create a lot of delicious recipes with soy sauce, sesame oil, vegetables and rice, but there’s also more to it. I wanted to make sure I was fully prepared before even attempting to create Dan Dan noodles. I wanted to do my research and really make sure that I was creating this dish as accurately as I could. Thank goodness there is a rather large Asian market nearby my house so I was able to purchase ingredients that are imported straight from China.
Dan Dan noodles is a dish originating from Chinese Sichuan cuisine consisting of sesame paste, a variety of spices, preserved vegetables, ground pork and noodles. It’s extremely flavorful, has enough spice and heat, and it is very easy to consume two, big bowls. I’m not saying I am a Dan Dan noodle expert and I’m sure what I created isn’t the exact way it’s prepared in China, but this version is pretty damn good.
For this recipe you will need:
For the chili oil:
2 Tbsp sichuan peppercorns
1 cinnamon Stick
2 star anise
1 cup toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
For the meat mixture:
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 lb ground pork
2 tsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp shaoxing wine
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1/2 cup sui mi ya cai (preserved vegetables)
For the sauce:
2 Tbsp tahini
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp Chinese five spice powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup prepared chili oil
Noodles & Veggies:
1 pound egg noodles
1 bunch bok choy
- Begin with the chili oil. In a small sauce pot over low heat, infuse 1 cup sesame oil with the Sichuan peppercorns, star anise and cinnamon stick. Allow the oil to cook slowly and without burning for 10-15 minutes.
- Strain the spices from the oil and add the chili flakes to the oil. Turn off the heat and allow to “bloom.” Set aside.
- Next, heat a wok or large saute pan over medium high heat, add 1 Tbsp sesame oil along with the ground pork and brown.
- Once the pork is brown and cooked through, add the hosin, shaoxing wine, soy sauce, Chinese five spice powder and sui mi ya cai. Combine ingredients and turn heat to low.
- In a bowl, mix the tahini, soy sauce, granulated sugar, Chinese five spice powder, minced garlic and prepared chili oil.
- Add the sauce to the pork mixture. Turn heat off and set aside. *You don’t want the sauce to burn or dry out.*
- Cook the noodles until al dente. Using tongs, transfer the noodles straight to a bowl. *A little noodle water is fine as it will help thin the sauce.*
- In the same noodle cooking water, blanch the bok choy, about 3-4 minutes.
- Top the noodles with the pork mixture and a tiny bit more chili oil.
- Garnish with bok choy, scallions and peanuts.
This recipe appeared very intimidating before I prepared it, but if you have everything mis en place (in it’s place) prior to cooking, it actually goes very quickly and smoothly!
Give it a try and let me know what you think!