Dish of the Week: Dan Dan Noodles
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.
This week, we’re turning far east for Dan Dan Noodles.
Dan dan (also written dandan or dandanmian) is a Sichuan-style Chinese noodle dish consisting of minced pork, chile oil, Sichuan pepper, scallions and a spicy sauce with pickled vegetables, served over noodles. In American Chinese versions, sesame paste or even peanut butter can replace the spicy sauce, sometimes resulting in a less soupy and slightly sweeter take on the dish. In Japanese cuisine, a similar ramen-style dish is known as tantan-men.
Translating to “noodles carried on a pole” or “peddler’s noodles,” the name dan dan refers to the bamboo shoulder pole that street vendors used to carry the noodles in when selling them. The dan dan pole contained two baskets, one for the noodles, and one for the spicy sauce. Eventually, locals began calling the noodles dandan.
It’s a common street food to this day, but with ground pork, noodles and chile oil as its main ingredients, it’s simple and cheap enough to make at home.
This recipe, from Bon Appétit, incorporates a store-bought chile oil, but if you’d like to make your own ahead of time, Serious Eats has some seriously easy instructions (which we’ve included in the notes below).
DAN DAN NOODLES
Ingredients serves 2
8 ounces Shanghai-style noodles (cu mian) or udon
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces ground pork
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger
3/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons (or less) chile oil**
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
Pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
**To make homemade chile oil: Toast a handful of whole Chinese chilies (or if you want, red pepper flakes) in a dry skillet until ever-so-slightly smoking. Transfer to a food processor with a cup of neutral oil (like canola) and blend. Leave in a sealed container in the fridge for a week or so before using. Keep in your fridge for use in dumplings, ramen, stir-fries, etc. You can top it off with more toasted chilies when you're running low.
Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until just tender but still firm to the bite. Drain; transfer to a large bowl of ice water and let stand until cold. Drain well and divide between 2 bowls.
Heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add pork, season with salt and pepper, and stir, breaking up pork with a spoon, until halfway cooked, about 2 minutes. Add ginger; cook until pork is cooked through and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in chicken stock and next 6 ingredients; simmer until sauce thickens, about 7 minutes. Pour pork mixture over noodles; garnish with peanuts and scallions.
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