Making Dan Dan Noodles

A bowl of dan dan noodles
Photo by Sharon Ang, c/o Pixabay

Peer through the fog on a Chinese street and you might be lucky enough to hear if not smell the call of a very famous Szechuan dish called Dan Dan noodles. It is a top street food but not easy to pin down as to what it truly is. 

The name dan dan comes from the bamboo carrying pole which vendors used to carry their noodles and sauces through the streets as they went about selling them. If you see a seller and order one, they will take noodles and add a prepared spicy sauce known as mala which is topped with pork. It is very traditional and probably one of the most authentic ways to have a chinese dish. It is certainly never a broth or a soup. It remains then to slurp the whole lot down !

If you make it at home then there is nothing more satisfying than this hot and spicy concoction. Martha Stewart offers an interesting perspective on the concept and it’s adapted here for this web-site

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. fresh noodles – ramen are best and probably most authentic
  • a pound of minced pork
  • a small bunch of dark leafy greens such as spinach, tatsoi, mustard greens etc.
  • 1/4 cup of chopped onions, spring onions, scallions and shallots
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped or minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
  • 1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder or some star anise
  • 2 tbsps minced or finely chopped up ginger
  • 1/4 cup or 2 tbsps of soy sauce – depends on how rich you want this dish to be
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • chili oil or 1/4 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1/4 cup safflower oil or 1 tsp sesame oil
  • salt but use sparingly as this can be overly salty

Preparation Of Dan Dan Noodles

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles according to the package’s instructions.
  2. Add any vegetables about 1 minute before the noodles are ready.
  3. Drain and then rinse under cool water, then drain again. Divide noodles between 2 bowls.
  4. Mix the pork mince with five-spice powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  5. Heat oil over high in a large skillet.
  6. Add pork in 1 layer and fry, breaking up pieces with a wooden spoon, until crisped and beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
  7. Add ginger, garlic, and shallots or scallions and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
  8. Stir in wine, soy sauce, and tahini, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan.
  9. Add chicken stock.
  10. Cook until thickened slightly, about 4 minutes.
  11. Divide pork mixture evenly between the bowls.
  12. Drizzle generously with chili oil and sprinkle with peanuts and scallions.
  13. Mix thoroughly before eating.

The general feeling is that this recipe is surprisingly robust.
If you are interested in noodles then take a look at our article on this staple of Far Eastern cuisine.
Take a look at various noodle products and sauces that help you produce an authentic dan dan noodle dish.
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