Dan Dan Noodles

This dish is different in appearance and substance from a dan dan mian (mian meaning ‘noodles’) that you might get in a restaurant or on the streets of a Sichuanese city – but the essence is the same. Plus, you can have it on the table in under half an hour.

Yield

Serves 2

Total Time

25 Minutes

Ingredients

200g of fresh thick ramen Noodles or 120g of dried thick wheat noodles (2 nests)
1 tbsp of neutral oil
200g of minced beef or 100g each of minced beef and pork
1 tsp of Chinese five spice powder
2 tbsp of Shaoxing rice wine
2 tbsp of sweet bean sauce or hoisin sauce
½ tsp of dark soy sauce
½ tsp of freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce
2 tbsp of sesame paste (or tahini)
1 tbsp of peanut butter
2 tbsp of light soy sauce
1 tbsp of Chinkiang black rice vinegar
2 tsp of light (soft) brown sugar
¼ tsp of freshly ground Sichuan peppercorns
2 tbsp of homemade chilli oil or Lao Gan Ma Crispy Chilli Oil
To serve
100ml of chicken stock or water
2 handfuls of leafy greens (such as pak choi/bok choy, kai lan, choi sum or spinach), sliced
2 tbsp of crushed roasted peanuts
2 tbsp of sui mi ya cai or 1 tbsp of finely diced gherkin
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 radishes, julienned (optional)

Method

Step 1

Begin by cooking the noodles until al dente, according to the instructions on the packet. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking liquid, and then rinse in plenty of cold water until they are completely cool (this will prevent them from sticking), then set aside.

Step 2

Next make the sauce. Add the sesame paste (or tahini) and peanut butter to a small bowl, along with the soy sauce, rice vinegar and 2 tbsp of the reserved noodle-cooking water, and gradually mix this together. Sesame paste is quite solid and can be difficult to dissolve, but stick with it. Use the back of a fork to mash it in with the liquid ingredients to begin with. Once the sesame paste is incorporated, add the rest of the sauce ingredients. You can add more chilli oil if you want more of a kick. Set aside.

Step 3

Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan or wok over a high heat. Add the minced beef (or mixed beef and pork) and let it brown and caramelise for at least 1 minute, without stirring. Then, stir and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes until browned all over. Once the meat is browned, add the Chinese five spice powder and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the rice wine and deglaze the pan, then add the sweet bean sauce (or hoisin), soy sauce and black pepper. Mix well and turn down the heat to cook for another 2 minutes.

Step 4

To assemble, add 50ml of the hot chicken stock or water to each bowl. Add half of the sauce to each bowl and combine with the stock/water. Add half the cooked noodles and sliced greens, then top with half the meat mixture, followed by a tbsp each of the peanuts and sui mi ya cai, and half the spring onions and radishes (if using). Mix it all together and enjoy.
Recipe courtesy of Dumplings and Noodles by Pippa Middlehurst (Quadrille, £16.99). Photography by India Hobson.

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